Midnight Marauders: A Quest Narrative

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Robert S. Welch Center for Graduate and Professional Studies


MFA in Creative Nonfiction

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Midnight Marauders: A Quest Narrative offers a nostalgic trek through the New York of 1993, the golden era hip-hop scene, and a Queens girl’s coming of age. A Tribe Called Quest—Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Jarobi, Phife Dawg, and Q-Tip—released their first album in 1990, shattering restrictions on what rap music could be. That same year, hailing from the guys’ same St. Albans, Queens neighborhood, Porscha Burke’s mother, Linda, began managing producers at Rush, rap’s iconic management company. Rush’s downtown offices provided a front-row seat to hip-hop’s transformation from urban subculture to mainstream media—punctuated by colorful characters like Lyor Cohen, Flavor Flav, Redman, and Q-Tip. By Tribe’s third album, Midnight Marauders, their eclectic, sophisticated sound blending jazz, soul, and street poetry had established the guys as some of the genre’s greatest. Porscha took her Tribe-flavored Queens seasoning and stories of celebrity encounters to boarding school in Dobbs Ferry, New York, where Tribe’s music helped her find her place in a new and diverse world. Porscha turned fifteen the day Midnight Marauders went on-sale, and it immediately became a cornerstone of her identity. This narrative uses the album, discussing it song by song, as a portal to questions of black identity, womanhood, spirituality, art, and love.