"I remember you! You was that De La Soul, Jungle Brothers, Native Tongue n*gga." - an acquaintance at the MSU Black Alumni picnic, 2007
When the group that defined your era, your passion and your pathos is being honored in a "Legends" setting, you're fucking old. At least that's how I felt at watching VH1 Hip Hop Honors show. I didn't even watch the whole thing, just the part with A Tribe Called Quest. That's all I needed to see. To watch Common (who I thought was a Tribe contemporary, really) and Lupe ("ATCQ never influenced me, even a tiny bit") Fiasco do their best to make me miss the genuine article, was miserable.
Make no bones about it, my favorite group was/is De La Soul with ATCQ a close second. Mind you, I believe that the Tribe made better music, but I believed that De La Soul set the table. Tribe just improved on the template.
When everybody and they mama thought gun-totin' was sexy, the Tribe was there, being who they were, the jazziest, dopest cats on the set. It was OK to be different, to be smart, to be aware.
I'm living in a world where people are trying to "out ignorant" each other. Every week there's a new winner.
There are remnants of the Native Tongue era everywhere, but nothing in a unified way. The neo-soul segment of R & B, The Roots, Slum Village, Lupe (though he refuses to acknowledge it), MF Doom, and of course Common who just dropped an amazing CD. Kanye? Not so much, though he tries to force a connection every chance he gets.
It's a bitch getting old.