A Tribe Called Quest has been, and will always be remembered as one of Hip Hop’s most prolific and influential contributors of the culture. I can remember rummaging through my parents CD collections as a youth and running into the brilliantly minimalist artwork that was ‘The Low End Theory’. In those early days, before having developed an ear and taste for music, I remember picking albums to listen to based solely off their covers and artwork.
I had no idea then, the impact and affect this record would have on me and where I was heading. I had no idea that here, 20 some-odd years later I would be writing about that very experience. ‘The Low End Theory’ introduced me to both Hip Hop and Jazz, two genres of music that originated in black communities, and were products of the black struggle and story. Two genres that would grow to become two of the most popular and successful genres worldwide. ATCQ perfectly married the two genres and made obvious their apparent relation to each other.
‘We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service’ is the 6th and final full length studio album from Queens natives A Tribe Called Quest. The album title was chosen by the late and great Malik Izaak Taylor, professionally known as Phife Dawg. Phife passed away on March 22nd 2016 months before the release of ‘We got it from Here’ due to diabetic complications, he was 45 years-old.
‘We got it from Here’ was produced entirely by ATCQ and recorded entirely at Q-Tips home studio in New Jersey. The album boasts an impressive list of guest features and appearances from Andre 3000, Talib Kweli, Anderson .Paak, Kendrick Lamar, Busta Rhymes, Consequence, even Jack White, and Elton John. There are so many highlights in this album. The first thing I noticed after listening to the project in its entirety was that this was a legitimately planned and calculated release. ‘We got it from Here’ stays true to the sound that Tribe was responsible for pioneering, crafting and shaping, and actually pushes that sound even further.
The features on this album are so well placed and executed – on the song “Movin Backwards”, Anderson .Paak delivers his signature soul drenched vocal melodies that make him an obvious fit for the mood and direction of the album. “Conrad Tokyo” finds Kendrick Lamar in his pro black comfort zone – spitting bars like “Sayonara tomorrow, he’s just blood on the ground…” in his aggressive go-getter style and prose. Talib Kweli opens up “The Killing Season” which features Kanye West on the hook. The song “Kids…” showcases Andre 3000 and Q-Tip’s shared abstract lyrical range and versatility as they bounce back against each other.
“We The People…” in true Tribe fashion features production surrounding live instrumentation and shows us that Q-Tip, Ali and Phife still had the same fire and chemistry that brought them so much success and acclaim. This song sounds like the successor to Tribes legacy and represents the group brilliantly. I can go on and on about this album and what it means to me, a chapter of my life and many others is closing with this record. Listening to ‘We got it from Here’ I can’t help but feel my journey of life and love for Hip Hop come back around full circle.
‘We Got It from Here’ is a powerful and at times emotional farewell album. It is politically charged, fight the powers that be music for people of all colors and backgrounds. If there were anyway to perfectly sum up a legacy and gracefully bow out, this surely is it’s blueprint. A Tribe Called Quest is the very definition of Hip Hop personified, they’re absence signifies the end of a very crucial and amazing era in conscious, power to the people oriented music. They will be missed and their legacy, name and influence will live long and change hearts and minds for years to come.
We got it from here guys… Thank you for all YOUR service.