The Low End Theory
The Low End Theory
Studio album by A Tribe Called Quest


24 September 1991




Battery Studios, Greene Street Studios, Soundtrack Studios and Jazzy Jay's Studio


Hip hop, alternative hip hop, jazz rap




Jive/RCA Records


A Tribe Called Quest, Skeff Anselm

A Tribe Called Quest chronology


People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm (1990)


Midnight Marauders (1993)

The Low End Theory is the second album by American hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest, released in 1991 on Jive Records. After the release of the group's debut album, People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, Jarobi White left the group to study culinary art. Phife Dawg learnt that he was a diabetic one month after the album's release and, after a discussion with fellow member Q-Tip, they agreed to increase his participation on their second album and to "step it up in general as a group." Q-Tip credited N.W.A's 1988 album Straight Outta Compton as an inspiration for The Low End Theory

The Low End Theory was one of the first records to fuse hip hop with a laid-back jazz atmosphere. The bass drum and vocals emphasise the downbeat on every track. Double bassist Ron Carter plays the bass on the song "Verses from the Abstract".

The Low End Theory helped shape alternative hip hop music in the 1990s. It established the musical, cultural, and historical link between hip hop and jazz. The album peaked at #45 on the Billboard 200, and #13 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. The album produced three singles: "Check the Rhime", "Jazz (We've Got)", and the posse cut "Scenario". As of 2019, the album has sold over 1,500,000 copies.

Track listingEdit

All songs produced by A Tribe Called Quest, except for "Show Business" and "Everything Is Fair", produced by Skeff Anselm and co-produced by A Tribe Called Quest.

No. Title Performer(s) Writer(s) Length
1. "Exercises" Q-Tip Davis 3:53
2. "Buggin' Out" Phife Dawg, Q-Tip Davis, Muhammad, Taylor 3:38
3. "Rap Promoter" Q-Tip Davis, Muhammad 2:13
4. "Butter" Phife Dawg, Q-Tip Davis, Muhammad, Taylor 3:39
5. "Verses from the Abstract" Q-Tip Davis 3:59
6. "Show Business" Q-Tip, Lord Jamar, Phife DawgSadat X, Diamond D Anselm, Davis, Dechalus, Kirkland, Muhammad, Murphy, Taylor 3:53
7. "Vibes and Stuff" Q-Tip, Phife Dawg Davis, Taylor 4:18
8. "The Infamous Date Rape" Q-Tip, Phife Dawg Davis, Muhammad, Taylor 2:54
9. "Check the Rhime" Q-Tip, Phife Dawg Davis, Muhammad, Taylor 3:36
10. "Everything Is Fair" Q-Tip Anselm, Davis, Muhammad, Taylor 2:58
11. "Jazz (We've Got)" Q-Tip, Phife Dawg Davis, Muhammad, Taylor 4:09
12. "Skypager" Q-Tip, Phife Dawg Davis, Muhammad, Taylor 2:13
13. "What?" Q-Tip Davis 2:29
14. "Scenario" Phife Dawg, Charlie Brown, Dinco D, Q-Tip, Busta Rhymes Davis, Higgins, Jackson, Muhammad, Smith, Taylor 4:10


  • Track 5 features jazz bass performed by Ron Carter, and vocal tones performed by Vinia Mojica
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