Ali Shaheed Muhammad Explains Meaning Of A Tribe Called Quest's "The Low End Theory"
Ali Shaheed Muhammad, best-known as a founding member of A Tribe Called Quest, stop by Talib Kweli's podcast, People's Party, earlier this week, to discuss the group's legendary album, The Low End Theory. Shaheed even explained the nuanced meaning of the project's title.
“Where [Q-Tip] and I are alike is we don’t like the conventional. We don’t like the predictable. We like the mystique of music, but in life. And we strive to just dig a little bit deeper,” he told Kweli. “So with Tip, he definitely wanted to dig way deeper, to put forth this message that yeah, it’s about the bass."
Shaheed continued: “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.”
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He elaborated that there was another socially-conscious meaning, remarking that the group was inspired by the work of Public Enemy.
“The other is the fact that people of color were on the lower end of the totem pole of America,” Shaheed revealed. “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."
He added: “We’re students of Public Enemy, students of [Boogie Down Productions], and so far as musically, we wanted to make sure that we put that message into the music the best way that we could.”
The Low End Theory is widely considered one of the best hip-hop albums of all time. The project was released in 1991 and features many of the group's most popular songs including "Check the Rhime," "Scenario," and more.
Check out Shaheed's appearance on People's Party with Talib Kweli below.