People’s Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm

by A Tribe Called Quest


Released April 10, 1990 via Jive Records / RCA Records

Originally reviewed April 23, 2020

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Can I Kick It? (47%), Bonita Applebum (30%), I Left My Wallet In El Segundo (19%)

A Tribe Called Quest’s debut album is what music is all about: having a good time. Cover to cover, the four geniuses blazed a trail for a whole new style of hip-hop based primarily on sampling jazz and being in touch with one’s emotional and spiritual side. While they hadn’t yet perfected the formula—something they would achieve on their next two releases—their first record presents a charm in how fun and self-aware it is. With hilarious tales of leaving wallets in faraway places and “pubic enemies,” to coining the first hip-hop term for girls with big butts, the group knew that hip-hop needed a breath of fresh air and to not take itself so damn seriously all the time. All throughout this record are timeless choruses, earworm beats, and a nice sigh of relief that rarely comes in such a stressful world. So much musical beauty stems from this record, and it is forever a piece of work people will reference—whether they do it consciously or not. – Jared (9/10)

With A Tribe Called Quest’s debut studio album, the group became a key player in defining alternative hip hop throughout the 90’s. While 80’s rap evolved into a few major subgenres—with gangster rap being the most notorious today—the trio from Queens were among the most notable to head up the jazz rap branch. People’s Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm was not only a shift in musicality at the turn of the decade, implementing elements of jazz percussion and soul grooves rather than heavy synth sounds and electronically engineered drums, it was also an indicator in the change of what was to be “cool” in hip hop. The understated instrumentation, the relaxed performances of Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, and Jarobi White, and the less intense subject matter of hits like “Bonita Applebum'' and “Can I Kick It?” were a far cry from the largely political and understandably ardent songs that defined 80’s hip hop such as “The Message” and “Fight The Power.” This new approach and new sound that defined Tribe helped to provide a refreshing transition during a time of tension. – Pax (8.5/10)

In the late '80s, A Tribe Called Quest—along with their fellow Native Tongues associates—were busy creating the first crucial surge for alternative hip hop. Tribe's debut exhibits unique sampling practices that compile jazz, soul, funk, and rock in an easygoing manner. Alongside their unique production style, Q-Tip stepped up with a spirited, fun-loving approach that was just as innovative. This informal energy was a stark contrast from the iron-jaw personas that previously headlined hip hop, and to this day it exists as a refreshing change of pace for the genre. – Enth (8/10)


Cam: 8.8/10 | Pax: 8.8/10 | Daniel: 8.8/10 | DeVán: 8.5/10

Jared: 8.5/10 | Dominick: 8.4/10 | Enth: 8/10 | Hadley: 8/10