July 30, 1996
A Tribe Called Quest released their fourth studio album, Beats, Rhymes and Life through Jive Records in 1996, 3 years after the release of their previous album Midnight Marauders. The album was recorded from 1995-1996 in Battery Studios, New York City, and produced by The Ummah (a group composed of Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Jay Dee) and Rashad Smith. Features among the album included Tammy Lucas, Faith Evans and Consequence, who was a cousin of Q-Tip.
Beats, Rhymes and Life differentiated from the Tribe’s previous 3 releases as it contained darker elements and overall less playful vibes than before. Subject matter from the album included the infamous Death Row v. Bad Boy rivalry, in addition to a Q-Tip response to a Westside Connection diss about him in “Keeping It Moving”. Q-Tip claimed that people should not misinterpret his lyrics, as he did not originally mean to diss the west coast (who could possible diss Q-tip? Crazy).
The Tribe released 2 singles alongside the album; “1nce Again” and “Stressed Out”, the former which was nominated for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group in the 1997 Grammy Awards.
Beats, Rhymes and Life peaked at #1 on the Billboard 200 and Top R&B Albums charts. Additionally, it was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album in 1997. The album became RIAA Certified Platinum on October 27, 1998, even though it did not impress as much as the group’s first three albums.
Stream the album below, and let us know what you think in the comments!