A Tribe Called Quest: 20 Essential Songs

R.I.P. Phife Dawg: Revisit pioneering New York rap crew's best tracks

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"I Left My Wallet in El Segundo" (1990)

Though he dubbed himself "The Abstract," Q-Tip had a natural storyteller's gift for concrete lyrical detail from the jump. With a loping beat from the Chamber Brothers' "Funky" setting just the right lazy and comic tone, he precisely describes every aspect of an ill-fated road trip: the four-foot-high sombrero that Pedro wears, the '74 Dodge Dart, the meal of enchiladas and fruit punch, the wallet's contents of props numbers and jimmy hats, how to drive from the Belt Parkway to the Conduit. Not bad for a kid barely out of his teens rapping about an exotic-sounding place he learned about from its use as a frequent punch line on Sanford and Son.

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