So what’s the significance of November 9th?
On November 9th, 1993 (20 years ago), three albums were released that literally changed the style and feel of urban music forever. R. Kelly’s – 12 Play, A Tribe Called Quest – Midnight Marauders and Wu-Tang Clan’s – 36 Chambers.
First, let’s have a quick chat about Chicago’s own, Robert Sylvester Kelly. I’m not going to go into bunch of details on how almost every R&B artist after R.Kelly has patterned his cadence / vocal patterns or how created a sub-genre / style of music that we consider R&B today when in actuality it is closer to rap music than R&B. He has written for many great artist including Michael Jackson (You Are Not Alone), Celine Dion (I’m Your Angel), Whitney Houston (I Look to You), Maxwell (Fortunate) to name a few. You can say what you want about his personal life (of which I am not a fan of) but musically, he is nothing short of a genius.
Now to The Wu-Tang Clan. Kris Ex of Rolling Stone called Wu-Tang Clan “the best rap group ever.” What we can agree on is that this group from Staten Island, New York is still making waves 20 years later, which is virtually unheard of in hip hop. Wu-Tang consists of rappers RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa, and the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard. They are frequently joined by fellow rapper and childhood friend Cappadonna. They were formed in (and are associated with) the New York City borough of Staten Island (U-God, Method Man, RZA, Ghostface Killah and Raekwon) (referred to by members as “Shaolin”), though some of their members are from Brooklyn (Ol Dirty Bastard, GZA and Masta Killa). They have introduced and launched the careers of affiliated artists and groups, often collectively known as the Wu-Tang Killa Bees, and in 2008, About.com ranked them the No. 1 greatest hip hop group of all time, and stated “No weapon in hip-hop history can rival the chaotic cohesion of the Wu-Tang Clan. The Clan has so many characters, each with his own eccentricities. They are fearless in their approach. There’s a good reason no group has been able to successfully recreate their sound. The crew spawned countless loosely associated acts. Their classic albums spawned classic albums. In 2004, NME hailed them as one of the most influential groups of the last ten years. And were just talking the music. Wu-Tang also got in the world of fashion with a clothing line, scored complete movies, multiple TV shows and movies deals and even video games.
Finally, A Tribe Called Quest, Midnight Marauders. The hit single “Award Tour” was the first single released from the album and it is their highest charting single to date. It peaked at #47 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and #1 on the U.S. Hot Rap Singles Chart. It can be argued if this was A Tribe Called Quest best album but what can’t be debated is that the album Midnight Marauders was a critical and commercial success. A Tribe Called Quest is an American hip hop group that was formed in 1985, and is composed of MC/producer Q-Tip, MC Phife Dawg aka Phife Diggy (Malik Taylor), and DJ/producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad. A fourth member, rapper Jarobi White, left the group after their first album in 1991 but rejoined in 2006. Along with De La Soul, the group was a central part of the Native Tongues Posse, and enjoyed the most commercial success out of all the groups to emerge from that collective. Many of their songs, such as “Bonita Applebum”, “Can I Kick It?”, “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo”, “Scenario”, “Check the Rhime”, “Jazz (We’ve Got)”, “Award Tour” and “Electric Relaxation” are regarded as classics by the hip hop community. The group released five albums between 1990 and 1998; it disbanded in 1998. In 2006, the group reunited and toured the U.S., and planned to release a new album. The group is regarded as iconic pioneers of alternative hip hop music, having helped to pave the way for many innovative artists. John Bush of Allmusic called them “the most intelligent, artistic rap group during the 1990s,” while the editors of About.com ranked them #4 on their list of the “25 Best Rap Groups of All Time.” In 2005, A Tribe Called Quest received a Special Achievement Award at the Billboard R&B Hip-Hop Awards in Atlanta. In 2007, the group was formally honored at the 4th VH1 Hip Hop Honors. Q-Tip has stated that their last performances as a group will take place during Kanye West’s 2013 The Yeezus Tour.