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Unless otherwise noted, quotes from Michael Rapaport’s Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest.

The thing that men and women need to do is stick together
Progressions can’t be made if we’re separate forever […]
So listen because the Quest is led through the underground
My people have been oppressed too long, no more will we be down
– “Verses from the Abstract”, ATCQ

All community arises from its place: sounds of the streets, the types of flora and fauna, public space, whether used for advertisements, public art, green space. We are manifestations of the land. For members of ATCQ, this mural was a landmark and dominated the local landscape.

St Alban mural

As ATCQ member Jarobi reminisces:

These are all the people that lived in St. Albans at some point, all the famous musicians that’s lived in St. Albans. […] Queens put out legends. And I know me and Phife would walk by here and be like, yo, maybe one day we’re gonna be on this wall you know what I’m sayin’, ‘side James Brown, Fats Waller, Coltrane, Lina Horne. You know what I mean. That was dope. It was definitely in the back of your mind everyday.

For other members of the Native Tongues, Murry Bergtraum High School provided the environment for the emerging crew. Based in Manhattan, it brought together members of soon-to-be-formed groups such as ATCQ and the Jungle Brothers. Afrika Baby Bam reflects: “I look back and I’m like…some weird like mystical thing going on there, you know what I mean. It’s like a meant to be type of thing.” This environment allowed for the free exchange of ideas, linking passions for the sounds booming through the radio on every street corner. The relationships formed between Q-Tip from ATCQ and members of the Jungle Brothers led to another important quality of community, the role of Elders.

Wednesday: A Tribe Called Quest and the role of Elders.

This week, Truth Bomb Trails is exploring Music + Social Justice: Building Community through Sound. Look forward to posts on the ways that musicians and artists provide public service, the perspective of Paul Willis (hear his music at bandcamp, soundcloud, reflections on music from childhood and a look at the role music helps to shape and define emerging cultures.

Enjoy the tunes that helped inspire the week!