Ali Shaheed Muhammad Discusses Meaning Of A Tribe Called Quest's 'The Low End Theory' Title

The 1991 album was chosen to be preserved in the National Recording Registry earlier this year.

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A Tribe Called Quest founder Ali Shaheed Muhammad discussed the meaning behind the group’s sophomore studio album The Low End Theory, revealing the different definitions of the title.

Speaking to Talib Kweli on his podcast People’s Party, Muhammad revealed that he and Q-Tip wanted to convey their message in a non-traditional way — a trait he and Tip shared as two people who “don’t like the conventional” and the “predictable.” He said, “We like the mystique of music, but in life. And we strive to just dig a little bit deeper. So with Tip, he definitely wanted to dig way deeper, to put forth this message that yeah, it’s about the bass.”

“So The Low End Theory, and we talked about this in the press in the past, so people might be familiar with the definition of The Low End Theory. It’s obviously about the frequency and the triple-entendre. Certain lows,” he explained, continuing to describe the other definition, “The other is the fact that people of color were on the lower end of the totem pole of America. Muhammad continued, “And disgraceful as it is for a country that has come so far, and for us, specifically, our parents are the Civil Rights Movement. And to see their sacrifices and what they’ve done to attain a balance of equality, and to know that we’re still goin’ through it, it really upset us.”

The Low End Theory was released in September 1991 and is regarded as one of the blueprints of jazz/hip-hop records. Earlier this year, the album was preserved in the National Recording Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Watch the interview above.

Elsewhere in music, Chance the Rapper says the video of Kanye West yelling at him in the studio made him “evaluate” his friendship with the artist.

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