“We named the first song on Midnight Marauders ‘Steve Biko’ because we wanted people to ask who he was? Who was Steven Biko and what did he do? Then they would look him up and find out that he was an amazing freedom fighter in South Africa. He basically gave everything for the liberation of his people. We wanted the fans to find out about his story. There’s no better way to bring attention to something than through music.
If you could describe the Tribe snare sounds on this album they sound like nigga drums. These are some epic drum sounds that will tear your fucking head off. And there are ways you can get that sound on different levels too. The drums don’t always have to be super loud. When you listen to ‘Electric Relaxation’ the drums are not trying to kill you. It’s [very much] controlled. But even if it’s a smaller sounding beat you want the tone to be like at any moment the tone of these drums can go from 5 to 10! That’s the whole vibe of Tribe’s drum sound I was trying to go for.
And I love the drums on ‘Award Tour.’ And then there’s the sample I used from Jade’s ‘Don’t Walk Away.’ It’s all about that bassline. I just wanted to flip it, so I went through some more records and I got that Rhodes to counter the melody in the bassline. I wanted some drums that would smack that shit out the park. When Trugoy (from De La Soul) heard it, he was like, ‘Oh, this is dope…I’ll get on it.’ He just jumped on that shit. I got some funny takes of Trugoy doing the chorus.
I also have to take responsibility for that weird computerized voice throughout Midnight Marauders [laughs]. We just wanted to do something different. Everybody was used to hearing that kind of voice whether they were calling a phone company or they were on hold. There was always some type of monotone female voice that had a computerized vibe that was giving you information. So I thought how cool would it be if you called to pay your bill and then you would hear this female voice started rattling shit off like, ‘Keep bouncing?’
Working with Large Professor [on ‘Keep It Rolling’] was great. He’s an amazing, genius producer. I don’t give too many people that title, but he’s definitely one of them. Large Professor showed me how to work the SP 1200. I had all my pause tapes and ideas, but he used to show me how to actually make tracks. It wasn’t even about giving Large Pro the spotlight on that song. It was par-for-the-course for the track. Large Professor ended the song because he was dope. It’s different now. Today music is all about getting that spotlight. It’s about who goes first or last on a track or who gets the biggest billing. But back then it was just about getting your shit off as an artist.”