Michael Rapaport's documentary on A Tribe Called Quest, Beats, Rhymes & Life, has had me revisiting Midnight Marauders along with Tribe's first two records. All three still sound just as fresh today as they did upon release. Native Tongues and especially Tribe were my favorite hip-hop group/collective bar none. And Hip-Hop was definitely THE soundtrack of my late teens and early 20's. I was lucky enough to live through the genre's late 80's to mid 90's peak, what is now aptly referred to as its Golden Age. It was an exciting time, probably the first and last time in which I found myself completely engaged and immersed in current music to the exclusion of everything else. I remember waiting with incredible excitement for new releases and rushing to the store to buy them, often having to settle for a cassette because cd's were too expensive and vinyl releases weren't always stocked. There was a span of 6 or 7 years where it just seemed like with every new release somebody was upping the ante, taking things a little further, developing the art. I felt both a part of the scene, as I followed it so closely and was on top of the latest east coast sounds, and not a part of it, due to my background ie being white. All of which suited me fine, almost made it more fun in a way, as I've never been too big on being part of groups.
On a recent drive back to Austin I found myself playing the track "Electric Relaxation" from Midnight Marauders over and over again, just couldn't get past it. I must have listened to it at least 10 times in a row. I realized as I listened, stuck in a loop that I didn't want to leave, that this is one of my favorite songs ever. It manages to be both sweet and horny in equal measures, a trick that's not easy to pull off, especially in rap. And Tribe managed this not once but twice, the first instance being "Bonita Applebum"off their debut. In this age where so much pop culture has overly sexualized content that's strangely grim, mechanical, and joyless, its really nice to hear music that revels in such a playful, shamelessly joyful and humorous approach to sex. In a word it's healthy!
"Electric Relaxation" has so many great lines that I could print the entire lyric as a favorite, but if I have to choose the definite stand outs would be Q-Tip's opening line "honey check it out you got me mesmerized, with your black hair and your fat ass thighs", as well as "I'll have you weak in the knees that you can hardly speak, and we can do like Uncle L. and swing an ep. in my jeep, keep it on the down, yo we keep it discrete, see I'm not the type of kid to have my biz in the streets" and of course the immortal "now I want to pound the poontang until it stinks". But Phife almost steals the show with the following "if my mom don't approve then I'll just elope, let me save the little man from inside the boat, let me hit it from the back girl, I won't catch a hernia, bust off on your couch now you got Seaman's furniture". As a Texan the full meaning of the joke in the last line was lost on me all these years until it was explained in the documentary that Seaman's furniture was a popular furniture store in New York. Props to Phife as well for name checking 1990's BET host Madelyne Woods (got the goods).
So without further ado here's the videos for "Electric Relaxation" (unfortunately with the lyrics edited) and "Bonita Applebum" followed by the equally great Hootie mix of Bonita and the unedited "Electric Relaxation". Enjoy! And if anyone knows the name and number of the girl from the Bonita Applebum video, hit me up!