Check the Rhyme by A Tribe Called Quest Lyrics Meaning – Unraveling the Layers of Hip-Hop Genius

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for A Tribe Called Quest's Check the Rhyme at
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning


Q: Back in the days on the boulevard of Linden,
We used to kick routines and presence was fittin′.
It was I the abstract
P: And me the five footer.
I kicks the mad style so step off the frankfurter.
Q: Yo, Phife, you remember that routine
That we used to make spiffy like mister clean?
P: Um um, a tidbit, um, a smidgen.
I don~t get the message so you gots to run the pigeon.
Q: You on point Phife?
P: All the time, tip.
Q: You on point Phife?
P: All the time, tip.
Q: You on point Phife?
P: All the time, tip.
Q: Well, then grab the microphone and let your words rip.
P: Now here’s a funky introduction of how nice I am.
Tell your mother, tell your father, send a telegram.
I′m like an energizer ’cause, you see, I last long.
My crew is never ever wack because we stand strong.
Now if you say my style is wack that’s where you′re dead wrong.
I slayed that body in El Segundo then push it along.
You′d be a fool to reply that Phife is not the man
‘Cause you know and I know that you know who I am.
A special shot of peace goes out to all my pals, you see.
And a middle finger goes for all you punk MC′s.
‘Cause I love it when you wack MC′s despise me.
They get vexed, I roll next, can~t none contest me.
I’m just a fly MC who′s five foot three and very brave.
On job remaining, no I’m chaining cause I misbehave.
I come correct in full effect have all my hoes in check.
And before I get the butt the jim must be erect.
You see, my aura~s positive I don’t promote no junk.
See, I′m far from a bully and I ain′t a punk.
Extremity in rhythm, yeah that’s what you heard.
So just clean out your ears and just check the word.
Q: Check the rhyme y′all.
Check the rhyme y’all.
Check the rhyme y′all.
Check the rhyme y’all.
Check the rhyme y′all.
Check the rhyme y’all.
Check it out.
Check it out.
Check the rhyme y’all.
Check the rhyme y′all.
Check the rhyme y′all.
Play tapes y’all.
Check the rhyme y′all.
Check the rhyme y’all.
Check it out.
Check it out.
P: Back in days on the boulevard of Linden,
We used to kick routines and the presence was fittin′
It was I the Phifer,
Q: And me, the abstract.
The rhymes were so rumpin’ that the brothers rode the ′zack.
P: Yo, tip you recall when we used to rock
Those fly routines on your cousin~s block.
Q: Um, let me see, damn I can’t remember.
I receive the message and you will play the sender.
P: You on point Tip?
Q: All the time Phife.
P: You on point Tip?
Q: Yeah, all the time Phife.
P: You on point Tip?
Q: Yo, all the time Phife.
P: So play the resurrector and give the dead some life.
Q: Okay, if knowledge is the key then just show me the lock.
Got the scrawny legs but I move just like Lou Brock,
With speed. I’m agile plus I′m worth your while.
One hundred percent intelligent black child.
My optic presentation sizzles the retina.
How far must I go to gain respect? Um.
Well, it′s kind of simple, just remain your own
Or you’ll be crazy sad and alone.
Industry rule number four thousand and eighty,
Record company people are shady.
So kids watch your back ′cause I think they smoke crack,
I don’t doubt it. Look at how they act.
Off to better things like a hip-hop forum.
Pass me the rock and I′ll storm with the crew and …
Proper. What you say Hammer? Proper.
Rap is not pop, if you call it that then stop.
NC, y’all check the rhyme y′all.
SC, y’all check it out y’all.
Virginia, check the rhyme y′all.
Check it out. Out.
In London, check the rhyme, y′all.

Full Lyrics

With the poise and wit of wordsmiths navigating the intricate tapestry of hip-hop culture, A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Check the Rhyme’ stands not only as a testament to their lyrical prowess but also as a cultural codex for understanding the genre’s depth. The track, featured on their monumental album ‘The Low End Theory,’ is a rhythmic conversation between Q-Tip and Phife Dawg, burgeoning with nuances that encompass their journey, artistic integrity, and the landscape of hip-hop itself.

Drenched in the essence of hip-hop’s golden era, ‘Check the Rhyme’ is more than a call to listen—it’s a request to engage with the music beyond the beats. It beckons the audience to ponder every verse, dissecting the meaning interwoven between the lines of camaraderie, nostalgia, and the relentless pursuit of authenticity. The lively back-and-forth between the two icons encapsulates their dynamic synergy, while simultaneously inviting us into their expansive musical philosophy.

Nostalgic Vibes on Linden Boulevard

Memories cascade like the boom-bap beats of old as ‘Check the Rhyme’ paints a picture of youth and beginnings. Linden Boulevard stands as a metaphorical hub, the cornerstone of creation for these Queens legends. Here, the keystones of their chemistry are laid bare—the locked-in routines that bore fruit to their evocative, unapologetic sound. It’s a reflection on simpler times, cultivating an evergreen sense of home and origin for their creativity.

The riff between Q-Tip and Phife Dawg is more than dynamic—it’s a dialogue that underpins the fundamental nature of their relationships as artists and friends. It captures the spirited banter of two young talents pushing each other to lyrical excellence. This give-and-take shows us how hip-hop’s most celebrated acts find their groove — not in isolation, but in the shared space where their artistic energies collide and create.

More Than Just Rappers: Hip-Hop’s Renaissance Men

‘Check the Rhyme’ serves as a self-aware expression of the Tribe’s place within the pantheon of hip-hop pioneers. They declare their styles are ‘never ever wack,’ and with such prowess, who could argue? Beyond the swagger and verbal beat-downs of lesser MCs lies a keen self-awareness: they are cultural curators, societal commentators, and agents of change, wrapped up in the medium of music.

Phife’s assertion that he’s ‘just a fly MC who’s five foot three and very brave’ defies the bravado-soaked norms of the genre. The Tribe flips the script to show size and external presence can’t diminish the power of lyrical proficiency and the courage to stand for one’s art. They are not bullies, not punks, but rather conduits of a rhythmic revolution, speaking volumes for the marginalized through their persistent positive aura.

A Lesson in Lyrical Mastery and Mutual Respect

The recurring phrase ‘You on point, Phife? All the time, Tip’ isn’t just an earworm; it sets the stage for a demonstration of synchronicity and professional respect. In an industry where ego often trumps solidarity, A Tribe Called Quest exemplifies the strength found in unity. This thematic motif encapsulates an ethos where every member shines, without outshining the collective’s efforts.

It’s a motif of mutual affirmation that resonates deeply with anyone striving for excellence in collaborative fields. The pair acts as a reminder that every individual voice is critical and that support within a group can amplify success. When Phife grabs the mic, listeners are not just hearing verses; they’re witnessing an unspoken bond that enables both rappers to present their finest work.

Illustrious Imagery and Intellectual Prowess

Q-Tip’s slick comparison to Lou Brock and his ‘scrawny legs’ with the agility to move like the storied base-stealer is a powerful visual metaphor. It holds weight not just for the physical prowess of an athlete but also in symbolizing the Tribe’s intellectual flexibility and resilience. These lines skilfully combine verbal acrobatics with introspective clarity, appealing to those in search of substance over showmanship.

Their ability to remain true to themselves — ‘just remain your own’ — amidst an industry that often demands conformity showcases their philosophical endurance. The intense desire for respect evolves into an indictment of the mainstream: ‘Rap is not pop, if you call it that then stop.’ The distinction they draw between true hip-hop essence and its diluted commercial counterpart is a critical treatise for the uninitiated and diehard fans alike.

Peeling Back the Curtain: The Hidden Meaning of ‘Check the Rhyme’

Amidst the bravado and the infectious grooves lies an often-overlooked warning about industry manipulation and the pitfalls of fame. ‘Industry rule number four thousand and eighty, record company people are shady’ is a cautionary bar, delivered with an air of nonchalance that belies its gravity. This is the Tribe’s subliminal heads-up to their peers and successors: stay vigilant and grounded, or risk losing your art and soul to corporate machinations.

This hidden depth reveals ‘Check the Rhyme’ as not only an anthem for impeccable flow but also as a survival guide for the artists caught in the crosshairs of commercial pressures. The song’s irresistible charm is matched equally by the depth and longevity of its message—a call to action for the future generations of MCs and hip-hop aficionados to retain the authenticity of their craft against the tidal waves of exploitation.

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