I never thought this day would come for me. To have the opportunity to listen to new material from the group that influenced so much of my taste of music. Growing up in Charlotte NC, A Tribe Called Quest were everything to me due to their affiliation with the local rap group Black Sheep. The Tribe always put on for my state on a good amount of their songs even including the classic “Vibes and Stuff.” Having all these factors in my mind, makes it a great honor for me to give my opinion on the first Tribe album in 16 years. A record that in one word is a testament to the age of Hip-Hop that we have entered in the past two years.
This project really came out of nowhere. ATQC wasn’t heard from until last year after their first live performance ,since their world tour in 2006, on The Jimmy Fallon Show to support the 25th anniversary of their debut album, Peoples Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm.
Soon after this performance (according to a message from the collective), the group of Q- Tip, Phife Dawg, Jarobi White and DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad went back into the studio to work on what would soon be the last ATCQ project. During the recording process, tragedy struck. one of hip-hop’s most beloved voices , Phife Dawg, passed away due to complications with his long know battle with diabetes. The five foot assassin was only 45 years old. Thus changing the meaning of this album again.
We Got It From Here… Thank You For The Service, is a tribute to the late emcee and a return to form for ATCQ as well. What i mean by that last statement is the Tribe went through a rough patch of creative differences after releasing a trilogy of albums that still are looked upon as classics in the Rap game. When the group dropped their 4th and 5th studio LPs there wasn’t the same attention of detail that was put into to them. For example Q-Tip gave up much of the production side of those albums to make it a group effort called The Ummah. This group consisted of Tip, Ali and the late J Dilla, but Tip wasn’t nearly as involved as in past albums.
In this latest project however, you can feel Q-Tip’s fingerprints all over it. From the opening track “Space Program” to the elegant “Solid Wall of Sound.” Every instrumental on this album feels so imaginative and fresh that it gave me chills. To give a fair assessment of how these beats stack up with past Tribe records, I might be going out on a limb here but there right up there with the first three. The tracks “Melatonin” and “Whateva will be” are perfect examples of this, both tracks are extremely well thought out and executed at the highest level. Make no mistake this might be the best produced album in 2016 and we shouldn’t have expected anything less from ATCQ.
On to the performances on the album and it is like the group never lost a step. Q-Tip is in “Top 5” form once again, Phife is just as charismatic as I can remember and even Jarobi jumps on the mic and drops plenty of memorable verses all over this project. Of course, this being the last ATCQ album ever there were going to be a long list of features. From Andre 3000 to Busta Rhymes , Consequence and Kendrick Lamar, the album is littered with so many epic performances worthy of being apart of this project. Busta personally brings some of his best material than any of the other features on the album, including his spirited verse on “Mobius.“
Honestly there are so many brilliant moments on this record that its hard to find a weak link in the chain. “The Killing Season” tackles police brutality and race gracefully . While the record “Dis Generation” is a passing of the torch to the new generation of artist.
Talk to Joey, Earl, Kendrick, and Cole, gatekeepers of flow
They are extensions of instinctual soul
It’s the highest in commodity grade
And you could get it today – Q-Tip “Dis Generation”
Another standout moment on this album is Tip and Jarobi’s emotionally tribute to their late member and life long friend Phife Dawg on “Lost Somebody“. There is so much passion in both of there verses that it makes for a truly somber moment especially when they give a moment of silence at the end of the record.
What makes We Got it From Here is it’s socially aware it is during this time in america. “Conrad Tokyo” and “We The People” grapple with issues that many american are dealing with at this moment. Especially the rhetoric that is being slung around by the president elect is a huge topic that is brought up more than once on this project. The album’s title track is even called “The Donald.” This is classic ATCQ, taking on subjects that artist should be talking about because they have the platform to do so.
Marks and scars, we own it, only made for tougher skin
Helps us actualize the actual greatness held within
Been on the wrong team so much, can’t recognize a win
Seems like my only crime is having melanin
Connection to the sun so strong the relationship is lusted for
Causes men to suffocate, I can’t breathe no more – Jarobi White “The Killing Season”
To close, this is an incredible album from start to finish. It is yet another milestone in this amazing group’s career, one that will continue to have the longevity of their previous works. We Got It From Here… Thank You For The Service continues to make me believe that we have been in another Golden Age of Hip-Hop for the past two years. This project is yet another by-product of that statement.
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