Looking more like a Clinique product than a rap album (at least from the cover), the Tribe’s swan song is going to be looked at as all kinds of things – a statement, a milestone, a historical document. But it’s going to be awfully hard to look at The Love Movement as a record. It’s too loaded, and our minds are a little clouded: How could Quest call it a day? Maybe they’re smart enough to choose burning out over fading away, but if The Love Movement’s any indication, they’re beating the slump that they seemed to be mired in during the recording of their previous record, Beats, Rhymes and Life.
It was too even, too flat, as if the fun had been sucked out of Q-Tip, Phife and Ali. Happily, at least some of the vitality that drove Midnight Marauders – surely one of the most unassuming hip-hop masterpieces – must have just skipped a generation. Quest’s practically trademarked mid-tempo groove, Love Moment is consistently high-spirited, pretty unusual for a breakup album.
A thick, sine-wave bass drives most of the record (check, especially, “Hot 4 U” and “Against the World”), the sound they’ve leaned on for three albums and a purer but less exciting sound than the fuzzy, intense bass that Ron Carter put down for The Low End Theory. filling out the space are clipped, thin keyboard and guitar lines and insistent (but, again, thinly sliced) beats.
It sounds like a recipe for failure, but it’s a flavor; all the pieces slide into place neatly, precisely – with a dernite, insistent thump. It may not – as “the lone ranger” suggests before bonus track “Money Maker” – “rectify music from its rectalness,” but Quest probably won’t ever make a world-changing album again. You only get one or two, after all. And maybe that’s what’s driving Quest to call it a day. With The Low End Theory, they really rred a shot heard ’round the world; more than just being of obscenely high quality, that record changed music. And maybe Midnight Marauders did, too. But revolutions require new voices, and try as they might, Quest are now familiar old friends.