A Tribe Called Quest returns for one last hurrah with ‘We Got It from Here…Thank You 4 Your Service.’ Q-Tip and company are on autopilot.
In an age where it takes a truly special album to pique interest, the return of a legendary artist, band, or collective often does the trick. In this case, the return of A Tribe Called Quest, releasing a final studio album after an 18-year hiatus, is “kind of a big deal.” Amplifying the nostalgic appeal is the death of a key member, Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor, who passed away in March 2016. The result is We Got It from Here…Thank You 4 Your Service, a magnificent sixth effort by a legendary, once-in-a-lifetime hip-hop group.
“The Space Program”
“Imagine if this shit was really talkin’ about space, dude.”
Highlight “The Space Program” kicks off the album in electrifying fashion. A Tribe Called Quest tackles black inequality – not the space program literally. Politically, the record is tilted towards progressivism, referenced early on:
“It’s time to go left and not right / gotta get it together forever / gotta get it together for brothers / gotta get it together for sisters / for mothers and fathers and dead n*ggas…”
The late Phife Dawg contributes the hook throughout “The Space Program.” Also notable about the record is the use of a Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory sample!
“We the People…”
“Dreaming of a world that’s equal for women with no division / Boy, I tell you that’s a vision.”
“We the People…” doesn’t lose any of the edge showcased by the opener. The message remains politically and socially charged. Q-Tip is on autopilot:
“The IRS piranha see a n*gga gettin’ commas / n*ggas in the hood living in a fishbowl / gentrify here, now it’s not a shit hole / trendsetter, I know my shit’s cold / ain’t settling because I ain’t so bold but ay.”
On the hook, Q-Tip names all the disenfranchised and minority groups, suggesting these underrepresented groups aren’t welcome in America. It’s also a shot at the 45th president, Donald Trump, who has had his fair share of controversy surrounding blacks, Mexicans, and Muslims.
“Kids” is a juggernaut without question. André 3000 provides the assist, amplifying the exceptionalness. Dré spits the first verse, instantly putting his eccentric, brilliant stamp on “Kids.” Q-Tip follows up masterfully, referencing Dré’s verse:
“I don’t wanna get up now, I don’t wanna go to school / I don’t wanna be the best, don’t wanna follow the rules / Mom, I think you f*ckin’ lied to me / Three stacks said all this shit is fantasy.”
The two trade bars on the third verse, and the results are celestial.
“Melatonin” is lush and soulful, anchored by an old-school hip-hop beat. The production suits the effect of the pills, which Q-Tip boasts he pops “like they Swedish Fish.” He goes on to suggest using (and abusing) melatonin is a method of coping with any and everything; it allows him to relax.
“Lost Somebody” is a thoughtful, dedication to Phife, featuring Q-Tip and Jarobi fittingly handling rapping duties. Katia Cadet sings the memorializing hook:
“Have you ever loved somebody? / Way before you got to dream? / No more crying, he’s in sunshine.”
Q-Tip handles all duties on penultimate joint “Ego.” Among his most potent rhymes:
“The ego makes you do it, it makes you face the music / or run away from life so fast that you’ll outsprint Carl Lewis / It has you think your deceptive ways of being are the truest / had the prettiest brown eyes but you change them shits to the bluest / it’s the ego.”
Fittingly, “The Donald” concludes the LP. “The Donald” references Phife, providing another tribute to the beloved Quest member. Phife appears on his own tribute track.
We Got It from Here…Thank You 4 Your Service is the final album by A Tribe Called Quest. All in all, it is superb without question. To reiterate, groups like A Tribe Called Quest are once in a lifetime. Listening to We Got It from Here, it is clear that rap doesn’t sound like this particular effort anymore – that’s part of the allure and what makes it special. We Got It from Here…Thank You 4 Your Service – among the best albums of 2016.
Gems: “The Space Program,” “We the People…,” “Kids,” “Melatonin,” “Lost Somebody,” “Ego” & “The Donald”
A Tribe Called Quest • We Got It from Here…Thank You 4 Your Service • Epic • Release: 11.18.16
Photo Credit: Epic
A full track-by-track review of the album can be found at The Musical Hype.