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Tribe frontman Q-Tip has got to be one of the most important figures in hip hop history. From the early ’90s to the present day, Tip has been a running thread of the culture.

In addition to the timeless music he created with A Tribe Called Quest, and his outside production for rappers like Nas, Busta Rhymes and Kanye, Tip also played a huge role in shaping the sound of Mobb Deep’s classic sophomore album, one of the most influential New York rap records to come out of the ’90s, and also introduced The Pharcyde to J Dilla.

After being introduced to the Detroit producer’s Slum Village demo back in ’94 at Lollapalooza, Tip was amazed by the beats Dilla was cooking up and they linked up, with the Tribe rapper-producer taking on a mentor role.

Around the same time, The Pharcyde were looking to work with Tip, following the success of their debut album, Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde. But Tip connected them with Dilla instead, who would go on to produce seven tracks on Labcabincalifornia: “Bullshit”, “Splatittorium”, “Somethin’ That Means Somethin'”, “Drop”, “Y?” and of course “Runnin’.”

“Runnin'”, which features a prominent sample of Run–D.M.C.’s 1984 classic, “Rock Box,” was a moderate hit, charting at number 55 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 35 on the U.S. R&B chart. It was Dilla’s biggest production credit to date, and help expose him to a wider audience. The following year, Dilla would go on to produce for the likes of A Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes, De La Soul, Keith Murray.

Slimkid3: We were looking for Q-Tip to do some tracks for us. Tip would be like, “Yeah, I’m getting some stuff together.” He couldn’t do what needed to be done, but he said, “You can check my boy,” and we were like, “Okay, who is it?” He was like, “Jay Dee.” We didn’t even believe Jay Dee existed. Q-Tip’s name is Jonathan Davis, we thought it was Q-Tip pretending that was his little spin-off name. Q-Tip brought a bunch of beats over, we heard “Runnin’” and “Drop,” it was some incredible shit. Jay Dee came to Los Angeles and he had his SP1200 and he would just flip these beats like nobody’s business. This kid couldn’t fuck up a beat.

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