by / November 19th, 2016 /

A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service

 5/5 Rating

(Epic Records)

A couple of months ago, the likelihood of A Tribe Called Quest ever making new music together seemed  slim to none. Even before the untimely death of Phife Dawg in late March of this year, tensions seemed to still be bubbling under the surface between certain absent members during interviews and appearances to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their debut album. It obviously came as a huge shock to the world when less than a month ago they announced an entirely new project, one that had been in the works since before Phife’s death.

Leaving just two weeks between the announcement and actual release allowed for speculation to build quick. What type of Tribe album were we going to get exactly? Would it be like the Low End Theory or more along the lines of The Love Movement? Who would actually be on the album? The morning of release, 16 tracks answered all these questions and any brewing skepticism was put to bed.

We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service may have many nostalgic qualities but it does not rely on them. It is a masterfully crafted, eclectic project that drew everyone from Andre 3000 to Elton John to help aid its creation. Every feature makes perfect sense in the context of the song with no shoehorned additions for the sake of some last-minute publicity. Nothing feels forced in any way, reinforcing that this album is not just another trip down memory lane no matter how much if feels like one at times. Sonically it takes many twists and turns but no matter how drastic the sound shift, everything fits in with the traditional ATCQ aesthetic.

Q Tip has always been their most prolific member and he proves over and over here that he is far from being past his prime. In terms of rhymes, he brings it like we’ve never heard before touching on everything from relationships to politics, always bringing honesty and passion to the table with his lyrics. Hearing him trade verses once again with Phife on ‘Black Spasmodic’ finally felt like the real reunion we all wanted to see. Not a forced interaction in order to make quick money from a show, but two old friends back in a creative and loving environment.

A Tribe Called Quest managed to achieve the near impossible with We Got It from Here… . A group who haven’t made any music together since 1998 have actually managed to make one of the best albums this year. As much as it should be and will be heralded, it is important to remember the grief and sadness from which it was born. Phife Dawg’s death left the group in a state of misery but it feels like finishing this album may have provided closure for them to some degree. If not, they at least know that his legacy will always remain in tact.

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