Style, Grace and Razamatazz
Updated: Feb 2, 2020
The Low End Theory
The Low End Theory is produced out of the discomfort of sitting still, where focused grooves bubble into snappy rhythms and jazzy hooks overflowing with motion and energy.
Approaching 30 years old, this album ushered in the Native Tongue movement in New York, where Q-Tip, Phife Dawg et al joined forces with groups like De La Soul and Queen Latifah to spread love and positivity, a hip hop counterculture to the Ice Cubes and Kool G Raps at the turn of the 90s.
Perhaps the greatest jazz/hip hop fusion record in existence, Tribe built on the promise on the raw adolescent energy of their first album and refined it, adding a backbone to the album through the inclusion of analog instrumentation. The name itself highlights the heavy usage of bass in the album’s melodies.
This is an album of confident young men shooting the shit over vinyl. Although each beat and rhyme is meticulously deliberate, it captures the soul of a careless and restless youth at a time where being colourful and positive generally wasn’t encouraged. Unlike their final work We got it from Here… that addresses social issues head on, TLET viewed artistic freedom and positive vibes as a way to escape the problems of the world and to just have fun.
Squid Ink Pasta with Shrimp and Cherry Tomatoes
There is no easier way to make a traditional pasta dish more appealing – both visually and to the tongue – than substituting traditional noodles for squid ink noodles. A practice originating from Sicily, the abandonment of familiarity this pasta brings leaves a memorable impression even before taking your first bite.
The startling colour of the noodles must be backed with unexpected and exciting flavours to ensure that this meal is as much substance as it is pizazz. Mixing in cherry tomatoes gives refreshing bursts of sweetness, while shrimp gives a crunch and unassuming savour to the dish. Bringing the dish together are the parsley and chilli, balancing spice and bitterness to add a completely new fresh element.
See the recipe below.
A Tribe Called Quest pulls on elements from a variety of musical disciplines, primarily jazz, where they completely flip it on its head. They take an art form that has existed for generations and refurbish it, paying homage to a more classic style while adding their own flare and excitement. In preparation of this album, Q-Tip spent hours dusting off records from his parent's collection, chopping them up, and bringing them to the studio for the squad to drop bars over with their signature charm.
The pasta follows a very similar blueprint. Noodles and shrimp and tomato have teamed up for countless variations of traditional dishes going back centuries. Yet the dish that is in front of you is completely original, from the presentation down to the flavour. What was traditional is now unexpected – the album and the pasta bend the rules to create a whole new style of art.
Mix in a glass of prosecco, or perhaps a Negroni beforehand, to complement the funk and electricity of the meal.
The experience has some kick too – from the spice to the tongue-in-cheek lyrics that both incite an exciting reaction from those indulging. That is not to say that the dish and the album do not go down smooth. The result is a smooth experience filled with energy, fire, and funk, that takes age old rules and shatters them. Familiarity and tradition still exist but have blossomed into a cacophony of excitement, and simply coolness.
Do it for the kids, the elders and the rap peers
We know the job is done when we hear a lot of cheers
Gotta feel the vibes, real from my creation
If the hands clap I'm filled with elation
This recipe does an excellent job of incorporating all the tastes and flavours vital to make this pasta pop. Don't be shy with the basil and red pepper flakes!