It takes a certain type of talent to elevate a music genre to new heights. Hip-hop, in particular, has seen pioneers and innovators as MCs and producers taking on the challenge of creating classic tracks that impact the culture and raise the bar for next generations to come. Today, we honor a group that has accomplished just that—A Tribe Called Quest—with a collaborative capsule exclusive to our NYC Flagship.
Originating in Queens, NY, the rap collective, Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi White (who left the group before the first album but still contributed to music projects), formed in 1988 and gifted the culture with six albums featuring alternative hip-hop sounds, conscience lyrics and whimsical word plays. Their first three albums are what many hip-hop aficionados would consider classics including People's Instinctive Travels and The Paths of Rhythm, The Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders.
"Midnight Marauders blitzed my standard for what music could do for the mind," Pharrell wrote in a tweet, when talking about ATCQ.
Tribe's music was not typical; when most 90s hip-hop artists used upbeat funk samples, Tribe took the laid-back jazz route with messages and philosophical lyrics that confronted numerous issues, including date rape, use of the word nigger and the trials and tribulations of the rap industry.
"The girl I talked to she's sort of neurotic (yeah)
Her crazy ex-boyfriend is really psychotic (uh-huh)
Scares the girl by threatenin' her life (word)
Says "girl, you're dead if you're not my wife" (oh man)
Beats in her public, beats her in private (yes)
Tried it 'round me, "almost" won't buy it (what you mean?)
Said "forget him, don't you know he's a loser"
Who would love a woman turn around and abuse her (ohh)
Only a fool as described by the Tribe."
-"Description of a Fool"
The group was not only part of the hip-hop community, they fed and supported it by collaborating and being sure to credit other New York artists including De La Soul, Queen Latifah, Leaders of the New School, and Consequence, who also took a creative role in the design process for the Billionaire Boys Club x ATCQ "Space Program" capsule.
The capsule itself is a homage to A Tribe Called Quest and their contribution to the culture, incorporating the iconic red and green visuals seen on their first three albums, as well as words from the single, The Space Program, from their last album, Thank You For Your Service...We'll Take It From Here. A special piece in honor of the late Phife Dawg, who passed in 2016, lives as two black pullover hoodies—both featuring the words "For Malik..." printed in 3M for a reflective take. While the BBC version features a space shuttle graphic designed for this capsule with the words "SPACE PROGRAM" on the back of the hoodie, the ATCQ version hosts a 3M printed number 5 on the back, in commemoration of his infamous nickname, "The Five-Foot Assassin".
Another notable piece is a BBC NYC Flagship exclusive varsity jacket manufactured by Golden Bear, featuring Billionaire Boys Club and ATCQ logo mashups in the form of patchwork and embroidery. Quality leather is used for the sleeves and the red ad green colorways are also seen.
The Billionaire Boys Club x ATCQ Space Program capsule will be made available exclusively at the BBC NYC Flagship and on A Tribe Called Quest's apparel website, The ThreadShop, on Tuesday, March 13th.