While speaking with Mass Appeal recently, those in A Tribe Called Quest (with the exception of Q-Tip) recalled shopping their demo 25 years ago, detailed the camaraderie among those in Native Tongues, and more.
After being asked if labels fronted on them when they were shopping their demo, both Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi offered their thoughts on the group’s early years. Ali Shaheed revealed that the group funded their original demos before Geffen Records provided financial assistance.
And according to Jarobi, labels “weren’t ready” for what A Tribe Called Quest was offering with their music.
“We funded our original demos, but then the professional demo was funded by Geffen Records…There was excitement because the Jungle Brothers were already in motion,” Ali Shaheed Muhammad said. “De La Soul was in motion. And so, the A&R, Jeff Fenster…He felt that excitement. And so, I think he had vision based off what was already being laid out. And when he got it he said he loved it, but didn’t know if it was right for the label or what the label could do with it.”
“‘Bonita Applebum’ was on there…A song called ‘Funky Fire,’” Jarobi added. “I just don’t think that—They weren’t ready for what we were doing. You know what I mean? We were coming directly from left field in the middle of like Eric B. and Rakim, Run DMCs, and the KRS-Ones, the PEs, and stuff like that. Our music was just strictly us. Everybody wasn’t ready for it yet.”
Later in the interview, Phife Dawg spoke on the relationship between those in A Tribe Called Quest and the other groups in the Native Tongues collective.
“When the Jungle Brothers were working on Straight Out The Jungle or Done By The Forces Of Nature, we were right there,” Phife Dawg said. “When we were working on People’s, they were right there. When De La was working on 3 Feet High, we were there. It was definitely one big family. It was two emcees and a DJ in all three groups. There wasn’t that much difference other than our voices, to be honest. Because when we first met De La it seemed like we knew them all our lives.”
For additional A Tribe Called Quest coverage, watch the following DX Daily: