Throwback: A Tribe Called Quest-Electric Relaxation

A Tribe Called Quest’s “Electric Relaxation” set a standard for the fusing of jazz and hip-hop. Q-Tip’s samples of Ronnie Foster, Ramsey Lewis and  the country/rock group Brethren sounded like a jazz band being invaded by a hip-hop producer. The bass line from Foster’s “Mystic Brew” was the backbone of their rhymefest that included some of Phife Dawg’s most memorable verses like his double entendre about Seaman’s furniture store. “Electric Relaxation” kicked off the group’s return two years after their sophomore album The Low End Theory. The  success of  this first single from their third album Midnight Marauders added to the mystique of New York’s leading status in hip-hop during the ’90s. The vision of the group on the streets of New York in the video and sitting in the Square Diner made rap fans want to visit the city. The song was the first indication that A Tribe Called Quest had formed classic trilogy of albums. Midnight Marauders was loved by rap fans and praised by music critics before reaching gold status on January 14th of 1994 two months after it was released by Jive Records. Phife Dawg shared the creative process behind “Electric Relaxation” with XXL magazine and admitted it was one of his favorite songs. 

Midnight Marauders is considered the apex of ATCQ’s music and the Native Tongues collective they were a part of with the Jungle Brothers, De La Soul and others. When the Golden era of hip-hop is discussed Midnight Marauders is one example of the innovation reflecting that time. In 2016 the group’s sixth and final album We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service was completed and released after Phife Dawg’s passing that year.  ATCQ announced the March 2022 release date for Phife Dawg’s first posthumous album on November 20, 2021, which would have been his 51st birthday.