Album Review: A Tribe Called Quest—“We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service”

By Isaac Fox, Feature Photo via The Source

A Tribe Called Quest is back one last time with their first album in eighteen years. In We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service, Q-Tip, Jairobi, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and the late/great Phife Dawg return from what was previously thought to be a permanent hiatus. The album was produced in secret following the group’s 2015 reunion performance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and debuted last week atop the Billboard 200 in the wake of Phife’s recent death. So where does it fit in with the rest of their legacy?

Unlike other acts returning from long hiatuses, the Tribe avoids getting bogged down in nostalgia trips, embracing their sampled production roots while also using modern production and live instrumentation to bring the Tribe sound to the new century. Every guest feature fits perfectly within the album. Busta Rhymes – whose rise to fame was propelled in part by his classic verse on Tribe’s Scenario posse cut – is the chief contributor here, appearing on four songs. Kendrick Lamar, Jack White, Talib Kweli, Elton John, Andre 3000, Consequence, and others also show up throughout the album, contributing to but never overshadowing the chemistry of Tribe’s core members. Some highlights include “Conrad Tokyo,” where Phife and Kendrick trade bars back-to-back, “Lost Somebody”a tribute to Phife – and “We The People,” where Q-Tip satirizes the racism bubbling to the surface of American society in 2016. 

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Album cover for “We Got it From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service”

 

He sings: 

All you Black folks, you must go…  

All you Mexicans, you must go

And all you poor folks, you must go

Muslims and gays, boy, we hate your ways

So all you bad folks, you must go.”

This is only one stand-out quote in an album jam-packed with instantly recitable verses. To put it simply, We Got It From Here…  is their strongest album since 1994’s Midnight Marauders. It serves as a farewell to Phife Dawg, an update for 2016 on the Tribe sound, and most importantly, a fun, funky, and politically charged collection of songs that shows that all the old chemistry is still there. For me, this record’s been on repeat ever since it came out, and I can’t recommend it enough. If you’re going to listen to one new album this month, this is the one to beat. Because eighteen years, three American presidents, and countless Puff Daddy name changes later, A Tribe Called Quest’s still got the jazz. Epic Records

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