The Low End Theory

Release date
24 Sep 1991
Running length
16 tracks
Running time


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    Track     Duration Listeners
1 Excursions 3:53 165,637
1 Scenario 4:10 181,646
2 Buggin' Out 3:38 235,855
3 Rap Promoter 2:12 127,780
4 Butter 3:37 136,332
5 Verses from the Abstract 3:58 123,179
6 Show Buisness 4:20 154
6 Show Business 3:52 101,501
7 Vibes and Stuff 4:18 139,966
8 The Infamous Date Rape 3:38 81,855
8 Infamous Date Rape 2:52 15,608
9 Check the Rhime 3:39 194,649
10 Everything Is Fair 2:57 95,845
11 Jazz (We've Got) 4:10 182,472
12 Skypager 2:11 98,682
13 What? 2:28 98,259

About this album

The Low End Theory is the second album by American hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest. Released on September 24, 1991 through Jive Records, the album produced three singles; “Check the Rhime”, “Jazz (We’ve Got)”, and “Scenario”.

After A Tribe Called Quest’s debut album, People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm (1990), Jarobi White left the group to study culinary art. Phife Dawg learned that he was diabetic a month after the album’s release and after a discussion with fellow member Q-Tip, they agreed to increase his participation on their second album and to “step it up in general as a group.”Q-Tip credited N.W.A’s album Straight Outta Compton (1988) as an inspiration for the record. The group hired double bassist Ron Carter on the track “Verses from the Abstract”. Q-Tip stated, “We wanted that straight bass sound, and Ron Carter is one of the premier bassists of the century.” Carter agreed to record tracks on the condition that the group avoid profanity, to which Q-tip assured they were addressing “real issues”.

The Low End Theory is stylistically reminiscent of mid-1980s hip hop. Producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad and rappers Q-Tip and Phife Dawg showcase how rap was done before commercial success influenced many rappers’ creativity. The album’s minimalist sound is “stripped to the essentials: vocals, drums, and bass.” The bass drum and vocals emphasize the downbeat on every track.

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