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The 15 greatest rap songs of all time: Number 13

May 4, 2020

The 15 greatest rap songs of all time: Number 13

Why this track was called “Award Tour” is a mystery because A Tribe Called Quest did not win any award prior to the release of their third album Midnight Marauders. However, an award tour is warranted with a legendary cut like “Award Tour.”

ATCQ’s most commercially successful single is a masterclass in alternative hip hop as well as collaborative songwriting. Q-Tip and Phife Dawg each laying down a smooth-as-butter flow on top of samples that are grainy enough that it either sounds like they were recorded on a mic that was a quarter-mile away from the instrument itself or it was played through a phone speaker and recorded on the Voice Memos app several times over. It’s not a knock on the instrumental, as it is phenomenal and the muted nature of it gives Tip and Phife ample space in the mix.

I thoroughly enjoy Q-Tip’s laid back verse that has the casualness of a guy who wears a Hawaiian shirt to a black tie gala. Despite the typically chilled out performance, Tip’s effortlessness makes his verse that much better. There’s not a ton of enlightening material or a grand social critique in the verse, but the flow is quite pleasant on the ears and he does say that he is “Mario Andretti on the MOMO,” which if you’re looking for awards, comparing yourself to one of the greatest racers of all time is a good place to start.

Phife Dawg’s performance is much more animated than his counterpart and there are quotables thrown in at every corner of his charismatic performance. I still get a kick out of hearing him say, “Phife Dawg’s my name, but on stage, call me Dynomutt,” cause only a rapper of Phife’s caliber could make such a hilarious comparison to a 70’s cartoon dog. Also, a great diss you can lay on your friends when you hear their “awful” music taste is to tell them to “take that garbage to St. Elsewhere.”

Trugoy the Dove from De La Soul’s chorus is just about as relaxed as Q-Tip’s delivery, and it’s one of the most well-respected tracks from one of the most well-respected groups in hip hop history.

This track also holds quite a special place in my heart as I consider it the first hip hop track I ever listened to. Heard it for the first time back in 2008 and I still enjoy it a dozen years later.

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