A Tribe Called Quest's 'Electric Relaxation' Celebrates 25 Years The song "Electric Relaxation" from the hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest officially hit the airwaves 25 years ago this month. The single came off their classic album, Midnight Marauders.
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A Tribe Called Quest's 'Electric Relaxation' Celebrates 25 Years

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A Tribe Called Quest's 'Electric Relaxation' Celebrates 25 Years

A Tribe Called Quest's 'Electric Relaxation' Celebrates 25 Years

A Tribe Called Quest's 'Electric Relaxation' Celebrates 25 Years

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The song "Electric Relaxation" from the hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest officially hit the airwaves 25 years ago this month. The single came off their classic album, Midnight Marauders.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

A Tribe Called Quest's "Electric Relaxation" officially hit the airwaves 25 years ago this month. The single came off the group's classic album "Midnight Marauders." NPR's Marc Rivers has this appreciation of his favorite Tribe track.

(SOUNDBITE OF A TRIBE CALLED QUEST SONG, "ELECTRIC RELAXATION")

MARC RIVERS, BYLINE: The opening of "Electric Relaxation" hits like you just stepped out of your New York apartment on a breezy afternoon. Putting foot to pavement, you walk a steady stroll, taking in the city's sights and sounds. Then the hook grabs hold.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ELECTRIC RELAXATION")

Q-TIP: (Singing) Relax yourself girl, please settle down.

RIVERS: All of a sudden, you go from walking to floating. And the world just falls away.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ELECTRIC RELAXATION")

Q-TIP: (Singing) Relax yourself girl, please settle down. Relax yourself girl, please settle down. Relax yourself girl, please settle down.

RIVERS: This song is an ode to those city girls. You know the type - no frills, no fluff and no time for your nonsense. Rappers Q-Tip and Phife Dawg can't get enough.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ELECTRIC RELAXATION")

Q-TIP: (Rapping) If I was working at the club you would not pay. Hey yo, my man Phife Diggy, he got something to say.

PHIFE DAWG: (Rapping) I like them brown, yellow, Puerto Rican or Haitian. Name is Phife Dawg from the Zulu Nation.

RIVERS: Back in the '90s, A Tribe Called Quest belonged to an even bigger tribe, with groups like De La Soul and the Jungle Brothers, whose music conjured images of poetry slams or discussions of Malcolm X in your college dorm room. This is how the track hits me - cool and carefree like a bunch of your friends nodding along to a beat.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ELECTRIC RELAXATION")

Q-TIP: (Rapping) Stretch out your legs. Let me make you bawl. Drive you insane, drive you up the wall. Staring at your dome-piece, very strong.

RIVERS: Phife Dawg and Q-Tip's chemistry, always on point, proved so effortless here that in past interviews, Phife described how they sometimes wrote each other's lines.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ELECTRIC RELAXATION")

Q-TIP: (Rapping) You can be my mama, and I'll be your boy.

PHIFE DAWG: (Rapping) Original rude boy, never am I coy. You can be my shorty in my ill convoy.

RIVERS: Today, "Electric Relaxation" sounds a world apart from the club-seeking bops of Migos or Cardi B. Here, the Tribe sounds too busy just having a good time. You can almost hear Phife Dawg smile as his cheeky lyrics bounce across the baseline.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ELECTRIC RELAXATION")

PHIFE DAWG: (Rapping) I said, how you figure? My friends told me so. I hate when silly groupies want to run their yap. Word to God, hon, I don't get down like that.

RIVERS: That bassline takes a permanent residence in your brain, riding along with you on the subway or sitting with you in a cafe. So what if no one can understand what they're saying in the hook?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ELECTRIC RELAXATION")

Q-TIP: (Singing) Relax yourself girl, please settle down. Relax yourself girl, please settle down. Relax yourself girl, please settle down.

RIVERS: The words aren't the point. "Electric Relaxation" is the neighborhood cutie catching everyone's eye. It's the skyscrapers looming overhead and the corner store just up the block. It's you and your crew piling into the car and cruising down the street, the music giving rhythm and purpose to the road, everyone nodding along to the beat.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ELECTRIC RELAXATION")

Q-TIP: (Singing) Relax yourself girl, please settle down. Relax yourself girl, please settle down.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Marc Rivers talking about A Tribe Called Quest's "Electric Relaxation" on that song's 25th anniversary.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ELECTRIC RELAXATION")

Q-TIP: (Singing) Relax yourself girl, please settle down. Relax yourself girl, please settle down...

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