RIP Phife Dawg – Favorite Verses: #4 – “Electric Relaxation”

The best (worse?) advertisement ever for a New York based furniture company

I finally got around to watching Michael Rapaport’s excellent Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest a few years ago. I think it made me sad more than anything else; I hated seeing the drama and infighting between my favorite rap group.

I almost turned it off; I’m glad I didn’t, because I would have missed the explanation behind a line in my favorite ATCQ track (“Electric Relaxation”).


First, a little about “Electric Relaxation”; I love this track. It’s my favorite track off my favorite rap album. It might be my favorite hip hop tune of all time. It’s got all the elements:

  • A great hook (Tip’s “Relax Yourself Girl, Please Settle Down”)
  • Killer beat from Billy Brooks by way of Raphael Saadiq
  • A ying and yang flow between two polar opposite MCs

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My Favorite Albums: Midnight Marauders

My love of A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders1 starts, like most stories, with a girl.

I was a junior in high school and was on campus late one Saturday evening for an anti-drug rally. There were some girls from a neighboring town in attendance and I had taken a liking to one of them. The rally ended at 10PM, but their ride was late… so I chivalrously (and maybe selfishly) volunteered to wait with them. It was cold, but that’s ok: I let lil’ shorty wear my Starter jacket2 (and didn’t wash it for a month afterward because it smelled like her) while we passed the time by trying guess the hard-to-decipher lyrics to the chorus of “Electric Relaxation”.

“Electric Relaxation” was to 1993 as “I Need Love” was to 1987. Q-Tip was the smooth operator; Phife Dawg was the realist (I love the line: ‘I like ‘em brown, yellow, Puerto Rican, or Haitian’). The beat3 (a masterfully reworked sample of Ronnie Foster’s “Mystic Brew”) was an instant classic4.
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