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Thanks for the articles on A Tribe Called Quest (“End of Quest,” 9/25). The first rap tape I ever bought was People’s Instinctive Travels…. (I wasn’t late, it was just that prior to Tribe, I made bootleg copies of my cousin’s tapes or recorded the songs I liked from the radio.) Some of my best young-adult memories were over a soundtrack of Phife, Tip, and Ali.
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My best friend and I had played “Scenario” so much that we knew all of the parts and treated our embarrassed boyfriends to a live version of it in the middle of a packed mall. We once drove to the middle of Nowhere, N.J., for a Tribe show and adventure that included a state trooper, some lovely trees, and smuggled bottles of wine coolers. For countless Fridays, I couldn’t get ready to go to a club unless “Electric Relaxation” was on my CD, and I was thoroughly convinced I was going to be the next Mrs. Johnathon Davis.
My friends and I were young, optimistic realists, creative and black, and the music of A Tribe Called Quest was a reflection of those elements. So when Tribe announced that the end for my favorite group was approaching, I ain’t going to lie, I was deeply hurt. Tribe will always symbolize a period in my life (and in rap music) when it wasn’t just about what had or hadn’t been accomplished (or what you could or couldn’t buy, or who you did or didn’t sleep with), but about the beauty of just existing and the possibility of what could be.
Now my friend and I no longer even speak to those boyfriends, I’m beginning to prefer a good book to hanging out in a club, and I realize that Q-Tip wouldn’t know me if I went up and slapped him. (Plus, just try counting the number of rhymes on the radio now where the entire song isn’t some mediocre MC regaling us with tales of how much money they have or who they can fuck.) Damn, Tribe’s departure is just another reminder that I’m getting old.