Music Reviews

Album Review: A Tribe Called Quest – We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service

Eighteen years have gone since the release of A Tribe Called Quest’s last album The Love Movement, with trends within hip-hop and mainstream rap changing countlessly in this time. But as the legendary Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Jarobi White and Ali Shaheed Muhammad return for their final album, they prove that their sound is still timeless.

We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service emerges shortly after the passing of Phife Dawg in March. Despite being bathed in the mourning of one of the hip-hop community’s greatest losses, the record still sheds some optimism for the group, its fans, and those facing adversity. Phife managed to contribute to many of the tracks, such as ‘The Space Program’ and ‘Solid Wall of Sound,’ to which he delivers the punchy flow that he is known for.

The album is extremely politically charged, appearing prophetic in nature as We got it from Here came out less than 24 hours after Donald Trump became the president-elect. Illustrating the challenges that African-Americans, homosexuals and other minorities are facing in America, Q-Tip mimics some of the Trump campaign’s sentiments in ‘We The People….’, as he recites ‘All you Black folks, you must go / All you Mexicans, you must go.’ Satirically diminishing these notions, ATCQ rallies its listeners together in a divisive time.

Collaboration is an important part of this project, not only in regards to the reunion of ATCQ. Features are heavy on this double-disc record, the most prominent appearances being that of Busta Rhymes and Consequence who appear on seven different tracks collectively. Although it is refreshing to see these long time collaborators of the Tribe perform in conjunction with them again, their continuous presence becomes saturated and sometimes annoying. The perfect example of this is on the track ‘Mobius,’ where none of A Tribe Called Quest’s members have a verse, just Busta and Consequence.

Mixed with some contemporary influences, the album offers the jazzy sound that A Tribe Called Quest is known for. ‘Ego’ returns to that OG 90’s sound, whilst reggae influences are tapped into on ‘Whateva Will Be’ and ‘Black Spasmodic.’ Digital synths which appear prominently on ‘The Killing Season’ and ‘Conrad Tokyo’ on the second disc are not out of place with the rest of the album’s production, appearing as innovative explorations of their classic sound. As the Tribe are Billboard’s current number one with We got it from Here (after a 20 year hiatus from this position), they prove that their iconic sound is still relevant and essential to hip-hop.

We got it from Here is a farewell album and a commitment to Phife Dawg’s legacy. His comrades give a heartfelt dedication to the original member in ‘Lost Somebody,’ as Jarobi remembers Phife as having the ‘heart of the largest lion trapped inside the little dude’. A Tribe Called Quest have created a powerful, emotional and lasting record; as the last album that Phife wanted to make, a more fitting ending to A Tribe Called Quest’s career could not have been left.

Keith Muir

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