Following up the sunny day illustration from their happy-go-lucky debut, Tribe went decidedly darker on the cover for the more mature (and classic) The Low End Theory. Painting the contours of an invisible
model's body with glow-in-the-dark paint, the red, green, and black image was sexy and Afrocentric all at once—a delicate balance that mirrored Tribe's jazz-heavy sound at the time. The iconic imagery
would continue to pop up throughout Tribe's career (gracing the covers of their next two albums), making the painted lady hip-hop's most recognizable mascot. Stripped-down, stylish, and original, The Low
End Theory is everything a great rap album cover should be. Andrew Noz, The 50 Greatest Hip-Hop Album Covers
On this work, the original album cover art design is at left but the band's name in the model's midsection is replaced with the album title. The original image was then flipped and was pasted at right and
the band's name in the model's midsection was replaced with the unflipped letters. The band's name was then added on the back of the model using letters cut-out from the original image. Finally, the
colours on the image at right were inverted.
The Low End Theory was one of the first records to fuse hip hop with a laid-back jazz atmosphere. Ali Shaheed Muhammad along with 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. Engineer
Bob Power has been quoted numerous times calling the album, "The Sgt. Pepper's of hip hop" referring to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band released by The Beatles in 1967. wikipedia
Here is the original album cover art design.
No. 52, Entertainment Weekly, The 100 Greatest Albums Ever; No. 153, Rolling Stone, The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time;
No. 414, The Virgin All-Time Album Top 1000.
Album produced by A Tribe Called Quest, Skeff Anselm. Jive, RCA 1991.
The Low End Theory helped shape alternative hip hop in the 1990s. It established the musical, cultural and historical link between hip hop and jazz. The album was considered an instant classic with a
5 mics rating in The Source. Reviewer Reef lauded their "progressive sound" and "streetwise edge". Writer Oliver Wang called the album "a consummate link between generations", which took the essence
of jazz and hip hop and "showing they originated from the same black center." The group's "mellow innovations" helped jazz rap gain significant exposure from 1992 to 1993. Rolling Stone ranked the
album at number 154 in "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time", stating that "people connected the dots between hip-hop and jazz - both were revolutionary forms of black music based in improvisation
and flow - but A Tribe Called Quest's second album drew the entire picture."
In Time magazine's "All-Time 100" albums, Josh Tyrangiel called the record an exception to jazz rap often being
"wishful thinking on the part of critics". He described the album as "socially conscious without being dull" and
likened a few tracks to "smokey rooms where cool guys. . . say cool things." The Low End Theory was voted at
number thirty-two in The Village Voice's 1991 Pazz & Jop critics poll. AllMusic writer John Bush, who declared it
"the most consistent and flowing hip-hop album ever recorded", summed up the record as "an unqualified
success, the perfect marriage of intelligent, flowing raps to nuanced, groove-centered productions." On
February 1, 1995, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified the album platinum.
(A) Excursions - Buggin' Out - Rap Promoter - Butter
(B) Verses from the Abstract - Show Business - Vibes and Stuff
(C) The Infamous Date Rape - Check the Rhime - Everything is Fair
(D) Jazz (We've Got) - Skypager - What? - Scenario