A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Midnight Marauders’ Turns 20 (PHOTOS)

Back in 1993 Queens , NY rap group A Tribe Called Quest dropped Midnight Marauders, their third effort in a triology of albums that shaped 1990s hip-hop into the thing we revere in 2013.

You were probably three or five years old then. I was 19 or 20.

Grown folks, better known as teenagers, copped the album and ruined basement floors and headphones dancing and nodding heads to “Electric Relaxation” and “Award Tour”, two of the many hits that turned MM into an iconic album after 1990’s Peoples Instinctive Travels and Paths of Rhythms and 1991’s The Low End Theory.

20 years is a long time, sure, but great music is timeless.

Egotripland spoke to Nick Gamma, the designer and art director of Tribe’s  radical album covers. Here’s some of what was said back in 1999 when the crew was researching EgoTrip’s Book Of Rap List.

Let’s talk about Midnight Marauders. You said there was another cover idea different from the iconic cover we all know. What was that all about? Nick Gamma: Yes. There were two original concepts before that. One was going to have this woman — I loved this, but Q-Tip nixed it – he came up with it and then nixed it. There was gonna be a woman. Imagine an all-blue shot, not a duotone, it was just like a blue c-print, deep blue. A woman in a big window of a loft [with the] Manhattan city skyline behind her, full moon. She’s in the window, in bed. Satin sheets, so you get the glistening moonlight off of that. She’s got headphones on, and she’s naked. And you can kind of see the stereo lights on but not see the stereo. She’s got her left hand on her ear and her right hand in her crotch, supposedly listening to Quest.

Wow. Well, that would have been pretty provocative.

Nick Gamma: Yeah. And [Q-Tip] nixed it. Then, the second idea was the famous striped lady was going to be like the pied piper. And all of Tip’s boys were gonna have headphones on and those headphones were going to be jacked into [the model’s] head. And they were all going to be walking in front of the Flatiron building. [Why the] Flatiron building? I don’t know why. But we actually attempted to shoot his. Like, in the snow. We had a woman dressed up in a suit, and this is like in February, on the streets like in a jumpsuit, painted.’Cause Photoshop and everything was happening but we were not really proficient at it at the time. So right now, we could have probably done those concepts. But back then, we were trying to shoot it. And we had headphones. [But then with] the headphones that we had it was like, “These aren’t the right headphones…”