“Phife, Ali, Jerobi and myself didn’t have any ideas coming into this album. It just kind of happened. A lot of the samples we used were just the shit I grew up with. I was just thinking about the records that I was drawn to as a kid and what our songs needed at a certain point in certain sections. It was important that we had the right music to convey the messages we were trying to get out. I did a lot of People’s Instinctive Travels already on pause tapes before we started recording when I was in the 10th grade at 16-years-old. Actually, I did ‘Bonita Applebum’ when I was 15. I had a different couple of versions of that song and then I flipped it to another version when I turned 18.
Being a record collector had a major impact on me as a producer. My musical scope has been widened and sculpted by all the great artists that had come before me. Without them, I would be nothing. Tribe wouldn’t have been Tribe. It was crazy going to record shops and trying to capture that particular moment for a song. It was my idea to use ‘Walk on the Wild Side’] for ‘Can I Kick It?’ The shit that made it fly to me was the fact that hip-hop artists weren’t using Lou Reed [laughs]. But I didn’t really care. I never cared to fit into anyone’s box for what is popular.
When it came time to work on ‘Footprints’ I always loved that Donald Byrd song ‘Think Twice.’ And rest in peace to Fonce Mizell (the late influential jazz funk producer who worked on ‘Think Twice’ and various other groundbreaking tracks) who recently passed. His brother Larry and he were amazing producers. That song ‘Think Twice’ was a song I would always hear at the house and I loved it. As a kid, I would always listen to that breakdown part like, ‘Wow…who is this?’ ’So that was the foundation of ‘Footprints.’ Then I got the idea to use those Public Enemy drums from ‘Public Enemy No. 1.’ I had a couple of other drums that I could have used, but I was in love with those P.E. drums. I used to cut the 12-inch extended version of that song called ‘Son of Public Enemy.’ It was Flava Flav just talking…he would go, ‘That’s the way the story goes! That’s just the way the story goes!’ It would echo out and the beat would be naked, so a lot of the DJ’s back then used to cut up that part on the turntables. I was in love with that shit! That beat was just so raw to me.
Tribe was all about being original, from our music to even the clothes we wore. When I think back to that time, we were very Afrocentric. Everybody now makes fun of the shit we were wearing back then [laughs]. But we were young. When I was raised my parents had me wearing dashikis. I was a ‘70s baby, so it was all about black awareness. When you wear the Kente cloth and the other cloths from Africa as an American it signals out to the rest of society. When they look at you, they see that you probably come from some sort of consciousness and that you are aware of who you are.
I look back at that late ‘80s era with pride. Yeah, the color coordination could have been better [laughs]. But it was a great time. There are moments that I am really happy with Tribe’s first album. I couldn’t say that if I had the chance that I would have done anything differently. Because if I changed anything from People’s Instinctive Travels, I wouldn’t be sitting here today talking to you.”