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RECORD RACK

May 06, 1990|DENNIS HUNT

*** 1/2

A TRIBE CALLED QUEST

"People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm", Jive/RCA

You think rap is in a seedy rut, with too much hostility, boasting, female-bashing and X-rated lingo--and too much of the same beat? Well check this album out.

A Tribe Called Quest, a Brooklyn-Queens quartet (Q-Tip, Jarobi, Ali and Phife are the names) isn't mad at the world. The Tribe is not into snarling, snapping raps. This record consists of mostly happy hip-hop, featuring gently humorous, casual, conversational raps. These songs, like "Bonita Applebaum" and "Go Ahead in the Rain" lope along in a quirkly, jazz-like pace. They're intriguingly non-linear and, like "Rhythm" and "Mr. Muhammad," quite provocative--even though their meaning is somewhat elusive.

There's some of the usual musical quotations--riffs from songs by the likes of Lou Reed, Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind & Fire. But the Tribe is more into experimenting than sampling, like incorporating flamenco guitars on the amusingly rambling "I Left My Wallet in El Segundo" and using unusual, suddenly shifting rhythms.

Will hard-core raps fans like this fascinating album? There may not be enough familiar elements to satisfy that crowd, which may find the Tribe's raps too tame and avant-garde.

With its amiable, eclectic style, De La Soul nudged rap into a different direction last year. The Tribe is following that exploratory path--but boldly forging its own detours.

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to five stars (a classic).

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