A Season of Songs, day 40: Get a Hold

A Season of Songs is a type of Fun-A-Day project that I plan to do throughout this spring.  I’ll hit shuffle on the ol’ iPod and see what comes up.  I’ll then write a bit about that song, the band, the record, whatever.  Enjoy!

40 days in and we have “Get A Hold” by A Tribe Called Quest off their 1996 album “Beats, Rhymes and Life”.

We all are human beings
There’s bullshit at the surface
Sometimes, I mean we rhyme
Damn, we ain’t prophets
And if you think so, you need to stop it
So jump back inside your shell
Let your million dollar thoughts propel
But next man don’t get jel
Playa hate that all carries weight
That we don’t need
We slim with disabilities and
Thick with possibilities

As I’ve mentioned before in this blog, I stumbled upon a lot of new hip hop during high school by watching this late night hip hop show called “Pump It Up”.  I remember seeing the video for “Bonita Applebum” and not being really into it at the time.  But months later I would come across their debut album “People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm” while out flipping through cassettes at the mall and would decide to pick it up. This album would be an instant hit with me – “Push it Along”, “I Lost My Wallet in El Segundo”, “Can I Kick It?”, “Ham and Eggs” and yes, even “Bonita Applebum” would become favorites of mine.

I would get their next two albums as soon as they came out.  “The Low End Theory” definitely falls in my top 10 hip hop albums, probably top 3.  Not a bad track on the album.  It kicks off strong with “Excursions” and the B-side wins again with “Check the Rhime” and the ending triple punch of “Skypager”, “What?” and the excellent posse track “Scenario”, which featured members of Leaders of the New School.  Classic album, love it.

The next album was “Midnight Marauders”. At the time when this album first came out, I wasn’t too into it.  There are some good tracks on here – with “Steve Biko (Stir It Up)” and “8 Million Stories” being the ones that stood out for me.  I think I would largely ignore this album for years and then return to it and begin to more fully appreciate what they were doing with this album at that time.  Beyond this album I wouldn’t pick up any more Tribe albums for years.

Then in 2011 the documentary “Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest” came out.  I caught a screening of the movie at the Regent Square theater and it was great.  It showed how these guys came together and gave a good look into the personalities that made this music that I love.  It’s tough to see the friction that ultimately came between them, but you know, that’s all part of the story.  I recommend checking it out.  I’ll even lend you the DVD if Eric the Red is done watching it yet.

Anyway, after watching the movie, I tracked down the tracks from their fourth album “Beats, Rhymes & Life”.  This album is a pretty decent album.  Less stand out tracks but no real duds on the album either.  The album also feature’s Q-Tips cousin Consequence rapping on about half the songs, which lends a little bit of a different feel to the album.  The first couple tracks – “Phony Rappers” and “Get A Hold” are the standout tracks.  “Phony Rappers” is as good as anything on the first few albums, especially Phife’s verse which starts out “Yes, dread, I had a similiar situation / When this kid tried to tell me I didn’t deserve my occupation / He said I wasn’t shit that I was soon to fall / I looked him up and down, grab my crotch and said balls”.

“Get A Hold” is a smooth, slower, jazzy Q-Tip track.  “You know we got to get control / Over the illest drum roll”.  Overall the song is not the most standout lyrics of Q-Tip’s but a great chill delivery takes it up a few notches.  Like I said, nothing too outstanding about this track, but just overall a really enjoyable track.

If you’ve never listened to Tribe, I’d suggest starting with “The Low End Theory”.

If you were a fan of the earlier stuff but never listened to the later records, I’d say you should definitely give “Beats, Rhymes & Life” a shot.  You’ll find some things to like on it.  I still haven’t given their final record “The Love Movement” a chance.  Maybe now is the time.

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