Ali Shaheed Muhammad @ Roxy Blu (Toronto, August 16, 2002) - Review

Ali Shaheed Muhammad.  To some, the name sounds like one you might find on a FBI list.  To the musically inclined, however, the name instantly registers as belonging to the mastermind behind Hip Hop supergroup, A Tribe Called Quest.  The name is synonymous with Hip Hop’s glory days.  It brings back sweet memories before the chains, before the SUVs, before the video chicks -- before rappers became Bad Boys!

Like all good things, Tribe came to an end.  In 1998, after fulfilling their record contract obligations and releasing their fifth album, The Love Movement, the group disbanded.  Apparently, the love kept moving.  Q-Tip and Phife were both buggin’ out, taking verbal shots at one another and thus, leaving Muhammad with some unexpected down time.  But that didn’t last long.  A year after TLM was released, he aligned himself with Raphael Saddiq and Dawn Robinson (themselves also ex-group members), and together they would form (the now-defunct) Lucy Pearl.
 
But enough with the history lesson.  Let’s keep it moving to the K.I.M. (Tribe fans know what I mean!).  Mr. Muhammad was recently in Toronto (Aug. 16), exhibiting his skills as a turntablist for a packed house at Roxy Blu.  In case you missed the show, you can imagine how eclectic a night it must’ve been if the first two tracks out of Muhammad’s crates were D’Angelo’s “Devil’s Pie” and Wu’s “Shame on a”  And if you’re keeping score at home, the first of several Tribe cuts dropped was “Find A Way.”
 
Keeping to his low-key persona, Muhammad didn’t say too much on the mic except to occasionally encourage the party people to, “Let’s have fun tonight.”  Rather, and much to the crowd’s delight, he chose to speak through beats.  After dropping a mix of old and new school joints for an hour, Muhammad dug deep into his crates and brought out the funk.  While many of the new school heads spent this time airing themselves out (to say it was hot in there would be a huge understatement!), the revelers returned to the dance floor upon hearing some newer -- yet not your average club-fare -- classics from Talib, Common, Mos Def, Slum Village (alotta J Dilla!), The Roots, and of course, more A.T.C.Q.
 
So what’s next on the agenda for this producer-extraordinaire?  The good news is that the he is currently working on his own solo project where the beatmaker promises to do a lot more experimentation using real instruments.  But what about Tribe?   Since the trio have only had, at best, mediocre solo success, logic would indicate the fellas should put their differences aside and get back in the studio.  And depending upon who you ask, the wheels are already in motion.  While everyone is obviously being very tight-lipped about the whole thing, some reports say that Tribe is bizzack and already 7 cuts deep into their reunion project.  Well, here’s hoping the guys Find A Way to stop getting so Stressed Out, get some Electric Relaxation, take an Award Tour, Find their Wallet in El Segundo, and Kick It 1nce Again!  Oh My God, what a Scenario!