After Hours

After Hours / A Tribe by Quest / Film by John Fraim


What’s That Sound? A Tribe Called Quest (1990)

Mick McStarkey

Far Out Magazine (UK)


The album spawned classics such as ‘Bonita Applebum’, ‘Can I Kick It?’ and ‘I Left My Wallet in El Segundo’. Without the album, there would be no Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Outkast, Erykah Badu or Pharrell Williams. Encapsulating the transformative effect the album had, hip-hop titan Pharrell Williams stated: “I listened to ‘Bonita’ every day. I’d never heard anything like that in my life. That’s where I changed”, ” it caused a turning point in my life, which made me see that music was art.”

Whilst it would be easy to look to the three singles from People’s Instinctive Travels as examples of the pioneering musicianship, track three on the album, ‘After Hours’, humorously does the trick. Typical of A Tribe Called Quest, at 3:13, the track samples the sound of frogs croaking.  

Not only is ‘After Hours’ classic Quest, laid back in its groove, featuring Q-Tip’s whimsical yet realistic lyrics, but this wacky yet innovative sample also matches the organic nature of the band. The sidewalk where lyricist Q-Tip created this tale is also reimagined, “I hear the frogs, and the smashing of bottles/ A car revs up, and I hear it throttle.”

‘After Hours’ is vivid poetry about the relaxed summer nights in cities, where anything seems possible. By invoking frogs, Q-Tip paints a jungle-esque, harmonious picture of New York sidewalks, where nature and humanity coexist: “So hear the frogs dancing in the streets/ Once again Ali will bring up the beat/ Like this.”

This hilarious image of frogs dancing in the street to Ali’s breakbeat encapsulates what A Tribe Called Quest are all about. Psychedelic and jazzy, yet relaxed in their composition. You can see where the more imaginative storytellers of rap get their influence — Kendrick or Outkast’s back catalogue springs to mind.

After Hours / The Guardian ( UK}


With socially conscious lyrics, infectious boom-bap rhythms and jazz loops, A Tribe Called Quest’s 90s ‘backpack rap’ has stayed fresh until the Trump era. An example of the youthful expression that abounds on their debut album (see also, er, Youthful Expression). After Hours finds Tribe perfectly combining Q-Tip’s affable account of a night on the tiles with laissez-faire 70s sonics – Sly & The Family Stone’s Remember Who You Are (1977) provides the backdrop and a chorus trades on a Richard Pryor vocal sample from the comic’s 1971 Craps album. Working the everyman angle, Tip takes time out from his unsuccessful attempts to pull, enjoying a sandwich before meeting friends to discuss “the world’s famines” and “the status quo of rap.” Brimming with fresh-faced naiveté, After Hours may only hint at what was to come, but back in 1990, it established Tribe as a crew worth hanging out with. 


Pfife Dawg


The first album of A Tribe Called Quest is considered perhaps the most revolutionary album in the history of Hip Hop. For one thing, it inspired young musicians more than perhaps any other album. In effect, it offered an alternative lifestyle to the current vision of the Hip Hop lifestyle that dominated urban black culture in the late 80s and early 90s. Noted from Wikipedia I think.

People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm is the debut studio album of A Tribe Called Quest released on April 10, 1990 on Jive Records.  They were a hip hop group formed in St. Albans, Queens, New York, in 1985. Originally composed of rapper and main producer Q-Tip, rapper Pfife Dawg and DJ and co-producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad and rapper Jarobi White.

People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm was met with acclaim from professional music critics and the hip hop community on release, and was eventually certified gold in the United States. Its recognition has extended over the years as it is widely regarded as a central album in alternative hip hop with its unconventional production and lyricism. 

* * *

Thanks to my children for infecting my MacBook Pro with this album. It wasn’t something I discovered on my own.

Thankful to all of them for sharing their love of music with me. Hopefully, I’ve shared back some of my love of jazz.

Our coming fillm is based on the music and lyrics of “After Hours.” The basic film is made and we’re editing it now. Finding the right images to match against the lyrics of the song. The images that come to mind. Put into the film.

So happy I found the entire album loaded into my MacBook by one of the four. (I’m pretty sure I know who).

Finally, matching images up to the lyrics of one of my favorite pieces of music when I discovered A Tribe Called Quest some time around 2009. After Hours has always been my favorite song from the album. It reaches out beyond the imposed boundaries of the current genre of Hip Hop music and provided not just a new revolutionary sound but also a new type of lifestyle to immulate. It didn’t have the hardness of other sounds around at the time. In many ways, a great innocence about life in New York City at the time. An overall playfullness and joyousness about life from the perspective of New York City teenagers in the 80s and 90s.

This song “After Hours,” from ATCQ’s seminal first album People’s Instinctive Travels.


After Hours / Lyrics

After Hours it was cool

Ten after one I think I’ll hop the horse
Downtown late of three of course
Just came from fishing couldn’t get a catch
Downtown they’ll probably have a batch
A whitened sandwich and again it stopped
But with the bail though I had a bout
So I exchanged it for some apple juice
I had the blues but I shook them loose
A jeep is blasting from the urban streets
Loots of funk over hardcore beats
The moon dabbles in the morning sky
As the minutes just creep on by
I get a thought and hear comes my Tribe
Ritual shakes and in good vibes
Like always the Quest begins
In the mist though but the rhyth’s move in
We find a spot and we sit and chat
Speaking on the status quo of rap
A derelick makes a real long speech
We pay attention to the words he read
When he was done we rattled on
There was no lunch because it wasn’t dawn
We pointed things out about this times
The worlds famons and the crazy crimes
Inflation of the nation, it bothers me
I better go gold, to pay the taxes
Gotta be swift society
The man whose made is the man who maxes
The grounds for living are being discussed
As we go it gets close to dusk
Gather thoughts and savor breath
Cause there’s only a few hours left

After Hours it was cool

Me oh my, hey-hey, hey-hey
The human hours are here to stay
This is how it seems my witness
Bug out all night, ask Phife, he’s with this
Girls be screaming on this conversation
I have my two cents for a revelation
And my watch continuously tic-tocs
Shaheed will bring up the beats that rocks
I hear the frogs and the smashing of bottles
A car revs up and I hear it throttle
It probably moves with the morning wind
Oh my God, here’s Phife again
Hear him talking about last nights game
Trying to remember someone’s name
So hear the frogs dancing in the streets
Once again Ali will bring up the beat
Like this

The beat is over and so is the night
The sun is risen and the shine is bright
We all say peace and go our separate ways
Youth is fading as we gain our days
Expedition for the song is simp’
The hours creep, excuse me, I mean limp
As we go you hear a gasp of laugh
As we start up our rhythmic path
Like this

After Hours it was cool

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