November 15, 2016 A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service (Album Review)
The end of an era has come to pass, or so says Q-Tip, co-founding member of the pioneer Hip Hop group A Tribe Called Quest. For years, it was not even a thought that A Tribe Called Quest would even put out new material, but thankfully for fans, on November 13, 2015, on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Jarobi White, and Phife Dawg reunited to perform. Feeling something magical happen, they put aside their differences and headed into the studio to record new material. Sadly, Phife Dawg passed away just a few months later, on March 22, 2016, leaving a gap in the heart of Hip Hop fans worldwide.
Coming to terms with his passing, everyone also needed to come to terms with the idea that A Tribe Called Quest was also being laid to rest. Then, as one of the biggest surprises in years, news came down of new A Tribe Called Quest tracks, so without further ado, on November 11, 2016, Epic Records dropped We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service. A two-disc set, scheduled for physical CD release November 18th, it combined 18 tracks recorded in late 2015 at Q-Tip’s home studio in New Jersey. It was the last group project with Phife Dawg, who gave the album its title, a title which the other members of A Tribe Called Quest were not exactly sure what it met at first, but suddenly it all seems so clear.
Kicking off the album is the trippy “The Space Program” as the guys state it is time society makes serious changes before Phife Dawg comes in with his breakneck delivery to a hip swing beat and Vincent Price’s Thriller laugh as well as Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka boat ride monologue closing out the track. Next, “We the People…” comes with keyboard-driven ghetto beat with a weather alarm horn sample as Phife Dawg spits his lyrics about people’s idea that the different races should go back to their own countries.
Moving on, “Whateva Will Be” features vocals by Consequence, who offers a laid back vibe musically as the rest of A Tribe Called Quest rap about how life is going to happen no matter what, so make it yours. Then, “Solid Wall of Sound” is a hard bass-driven piece cut by a piano riff as rough lyrics come with guest appearances from Busta Rhymes and Elton John. The latter part of the track slows down to a contemplative tempo while the guys admit most will not understand the solid wall of sound. An interesting piece, it could also be a nod to Phil Spector, who created the original wall of sound.
Coming in with a retro intro, the beat of “Dis Generation” shakes out to a simple tune as the guys trade the mic. Calling on Busta Rhymes again, he helps give the track some extra flavor. Thereafter, “Kids” pumps the beat out with vocals from Andre 3000 as they reminisce about growing up, lamenting adulthood, and how we seem to forget how to play. A slightly dark, brooding brings in “Melatonin” as the vocals have dreamy, ethereal sound with lyrics about life still having to go on in the insomniac’s life. This is before “Enough!” comes on with another laid back beat and R&B vibe to set the mood as the guys extol the time they get with their loved ones.
Spinning disc 2, “Mobius” again features guest vocals from Consequence and Busta Rhymes in a lyric-spitting, dark beat piece that tells of the hypocrisy of a race wanting society to think of them one, but the opposite. Bringing on a party vibe, “Black Spasmodic” brings back Consequence as they rap about the knee-jerk act of a race to want to make bank-selling drugs and chugging despite the consequences. With more guest spots from Talib Kweli, Consequence, and Kanye West, “The Killing Season” features a sad downbeat carrying the track as they sing about people not being able to get out of their own way to live in peace. Katia Cadet lends her voice to “Lost Somebody” as a mid-tempo beat slides through before stopping abruptly, and turns into a choppy guitar riff.
Keeping it interesting, a Funk riff begins “Movin’ Backwards” when Anderson Paak’s voice kicks in this piece that wants a good legacy left, knowing the odds are against them by the past. The futuristic vibed “Conrad Tokyo” features Kendrick Lamar with lyrics speaking of our civilization ruined under the guise of diamonds and pearls. Darker in nature, “Ego” has a haughty vibe to the beat juxtaposed to words on both sides of having an ego, the ego that gets us in trouble, and the ego that gets us grounded whether voluntary or not. Finally, with the election over, “The Donald” is an apropos ending to We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service as Busta Rhymes and Katia Cadet join in to bring this album home with a Reggae vibe as they flow on about the president elect.
A Tribe Called Quest’s illustrious thirty-one year career has seen their major highs and crushing lows whether it was internal or the biz. After taking a deep breath and listening, We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service is a worthy finale to their unique brand of raw societal commentary. Furthermore, it is a wonderful tribute to Phife Dawg. Still possessing the classic A Tribe Called Quest sound, it is modern enough to attract new listeners as well, and there is no doubt it is a testament to what Hip Hop should be all about. CrypticRock gives We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service 5 out of 5 stars.