Rolling Stone - 8/8/96, p.584 Stars (out of 5)
- "...near-flawless....few hip-hop acts have so sharply captured the surreal quality that defines what it means to be African-American, a quality in which poker-faced humor and giddy tragedy play tag team with reality..."
Spin - 9/96, pp.149-1507 (out of 10)
- "...Q-Tip still flows like Rakim's stuffy-nosed brother, slipping over the beat here, bumpin' against it there, and dispensing high-end rhymes like he's spinning them in his PJs over breakfast. Phife, with a few new ragga moves, sounds tougher and more playful than ever..."
Entertainment Weekly - 8/9/96, p.58
"...already has heads buzzing about the return of playful yet potent hip-hop. This time, they tackle everything from O.J. to spirituality with trademark Tribe originality....Can they still kick it? Yes, they can." - Rating: A
Q - 10/96, p.1723 Stars (out of 5)
- "...as refreshingly straightforward as the title suggests....the meat as ever is Q-Tip's whimsical, bright and faintly squeaky stream of rapular consciousness..."
The Source - 9/96, p.1454 Mics (out of 5)
- "...Maturity and spirituality are the underlying, predominant themes bounced between Q-Tip and Phife on their fourth go-round....BEATS proves the Ummah to be the most proficient in the rap game at using samples as instruments in themselves..."
Melody Maker - 10/12/96, p.18
"...Providing both their best and worst thus far, BEATS is magnetic yet frustrating..."
NME (Magazine) - 8/10/96, p.517 (out of 10)
- "...a chameleonic beast--revealing hip-hop's hidden hypocrisy one minute, and knocking out friendly grooves for the discerning bongaholic the next....by turns oppressive, startling, hilarious and zonked-out..."
A Tribe Called Quest: Q-Tip, Phife, Ali Shaheed Muhammad.
Additional personnel: Consequence, Faith Evans, Tammy Lucas (vocals); Rashad Smith (various instruments); Mase (scratches).
Recorded at Battery Studios, New York, New York.
BEATS, RHYMES AND LIFE was nominated for a 1997 Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. "1nce Again" was nominated for a 1997 Grammy for Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group.
Personnel: Consequence, Phife Dawg, Q-Tip (vocals); Pasemaster Mase (scratches).
DJ: Ali Shaheed Muhammad.
Audio Mixers: The Ummah; Tony Smalios; Bob Power.
Recording information: Battery Studios.
A Tribe Called Quest seem to grow, both musically and lyrically, with every LP, constantly setting standards for other rappers to follow. But they rarely stray from their chosen path. Since their 1990 debut, hip-hop has gone through numerous phases (new jack swing, gangster, hardcore), but the Tribe have remained focused on the music's true elements: BEATS, RHYMES AND LIFE.
Produced by The Ummah, which consists of the Tribe's Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad along with newcomer Jay Dee, BEATS, RHYMES AND LIFE sports the usual jazzy beats, and reintroduces Tribe as the all-around hip-hop group. Muhammad's use of funky samples, Phife's self-satisfying attitude, and Q-Tip's abstract poetry are only part of the reason why the trio keeps rap music on lockdown. There are other bands capable of experimenting with new sounds while delivering lyrical positivism, but they often forget how to simply rock the crowd. A Tribe Called Quest does that, too.