Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

A Tribe Called Quest ft. Busta Rhymes – Dis Generation

Dis Controversy!


Joshua Copperman: This, “We The People,” and “Solid Wall of Sound” were easily my favorites off of last year’s We Got It From Here…, and “Dis Generation” is extra special for its hook, syncopated, simultaneously infuriating and mesmerizing. I love the way all the members play off of each other here too — they literally trade bars, often down to the measure (which has the byproduct of Jarobi only getting four lines in the entire song, but apparently that’s just a thing at this point). Perhaps it’s because I still need to delve into ATCQ’s back catalogue, but I love how they’re tight enough to convincingly finish each others sentences — again, literally. What really makes this awesome, though, is how they’re praising the younger generation of rappers in a passing of the torch. Even as the names shouted out are predictable, it’s still pretty cool to see legends praising younger rappers who either want to be legends (Cole), are arguably already secured in the canon (Kendrick), or those who have the potential to get there (Joey, Earl.). It’ll take more than an unstable administration to make songs like this feel less than defiant. 

Will Adams: The importance of this symbolic torch passing is not lost on me, and the samples used create a robust foundation. But I’ve never been one for “Hey, you’re all right!”-type sifting for the “real” music among the detritus, no matter how easily everyone involved is trading their lines.

Mark Sinker: Black music evolving ways to address its own pasts and future — ways that escape pop’s endless present-centred event horizons — is so totally my jam, back nearly to the moment that Musical Youth were actually in the UK charts (I started writing the following year), that I really really wish this did more with the idea. 

David Sheffieck: The tradeoff between the rappers is technically stunning, while the laid-back beat makes it sound easy. Like you’re sitting in on a bull session that happens to have a soundtrack and a hell of a rhythm. Are they saying anything worthwhile? Almost entirely beside the point: they sound good — great, even — saying it. That the hook comes from Musical Youth seems like proof this is the Tribe song that could get me to listen to a full Tribe album; that Busta Rhymes doesn’t get more to do is an example of why I never have before.

Thomas Inskeep: Getting to hear Q-Tip, Phife, Jarobi, and Busta Rhymes swapping lines back and forth is a thrill, always. Hearing them praising a new generation of MCs is, too; they’re keeping the faith. And Q-Tip’s track, which samples Invisible, Can (!), and Musical Youth’s “Pass the Dutchie” (for its chorus), is perfection.  

Maxwell Cavaseno: Appallingly egotistical, one of the most abysmal rap groups of the so called “golden-age” have returned to the sycophantic glad handling for their pandering milquetoast MOR bullshit they once reaped for almost a full decade. Elevator music instrumentation to save people from the awfulness of modern rap production, best designed for festival cash-ins and swaths of listeners who like the idea of using “real music” as a lapel pin to read of inherent moral superiority. Who of the youth does Q-Tip cite as the leaders? Kendrick Lamar, a hyper-moralist, industry-coddled pseud who loves to deny racism exists. Joey Badass, a deluded ret-conning child actor playing the part of ideal rapper for the whims of disgusting old men and voyeurs. J Cole, a vapid poseur fond of slut-shaming and posing himself as some sort of revolutionary icon. Considering this is the same Q-Tip who once brattily called southern rappers “sub-humans” because he couldn’t get a release date for his unlistenable jazz-rock solo-excursions, it’s no fucking surprise. A Tribe Called Quest are still a sacred cow of bloated largesse in which centrist respectability wank gets disguised as liberalism because they tipped the hat at the delusions of the “woke” adolescents who see the rare elder making inane statements that support them and denounce the spectral bogeymen of the overtly right-wing. Little do the souls getting hoodwinked realize that they’re being conned by an absolute sell-out who’s disgustingly using the death of a partner he frequently abused and cheated of money as a totem for redemptive narrative alongside the waves of social grieving for a nation in crisis. Of course the only thing that could make this more musically repulsive is none other than their eternal protege Busta Rhymes looking like a bloated golem of B-Boy Generation insecurity and sounding as lifeless as ever no matter how much he gurgles and pantomimes at effort. Vile, vile stuff, and the world deserves better.

Alfred Soto: The crowd noise, Busta’s superb performance, the riff — all throwbacks, all a delight because Tribe use their past to accentuate what has changed without getting fusty about it. They couldn’t have released it in 1993 because they still believed in daisy ages. Despite the darkness, I suspect they still do.

Reader average: [9.25] (8 votes)

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8 Responses to “A Tribe Called Quest ft. Busta Rhymes – Dis Generation”

  1. jesus christ maxwell are you ok today

  2. Is the song any good, Maxwell?

  3. It’s true, though, that these guys have poor taste in comers (Cole!), but so did Edith Wharton (Sinclair Lewis! Joseph Hergesheimer!).

  4. I would agree with Maxwell, but then we’d both be completely wrong.

  5. @ Brad N, Alfred & Neil; lmao, no

  6. Maxwell appallingly wrong about a song?! I am shocked.

  7. ^^ The whole point of this Jukebox thing is having a variety of perspectives, so I’d argue that having someone as contrarian as Maxwell can be – not always, but can be – is not a bad thing at all.

    Even the line about Q-Tip and Phife (at least that’s what I think he’s referring to) is at least worth consideration for a moment, though I am amused that he basically went for the way I fell for this song (e.g., the woke adolescents amazed at the elders supporting a younger generation) in the previous sentence.

  8. Thanks Joshua; not to drag you into my position as you’re obviously much more fond of the music (which is cool! This isn’t an attack on people enjoying the song) but I found it amusing that last year when the site reviewed Tribe (which I personally would’ve also given a negative review to… Maybe not as much as this but certainly low given my distaste for this record) the big ‘controversy’ was your admission to having to come to Tribe through this album. I’m someone who through upbringing, taste, selection, ‘getting around to it’ has missed a bunch of music as we all have. I presume the point of TSJ is that some of us have gaps in knowledge and/or some of us have differing perspectives. So I don’t mind people rejecting my views on ATCQ as ‘contrarianism’ or even ‘wrong’ because frankly the site is better for it once and a while.

    But since Alfred actually engaged with my review as well and not to be flippant of him granting me that; there isn’t anything about the song I find enjoyable or good. The instrumentation, the #hashtag ready sample chorus, the message, the rapping by Q-Tip or Busta (I could’ve thrown Phife or Jairobi a point but my distaste for how Phife’s role has become post-mortem affects my ability to appreciate that and four bars or so from Jairobi isn’t going to sway me). This is a song that on every element I find a hard no.