A Tribe Called Quest Nails It On ‘We Got It from Here…’
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.
The Tribe receives an assist from Consequence on “Whateva Will Be,” which examines racial stereotypes.
“Sublimate their youth, hyper-sexualize their women / they ain’t got the strong enough hold, so they built their prisons…”
“Solid Wall of Sound” is ambitious, brilliantly sampling Elton John. Busta Rhymes makes an appearance, blending in perfectly with Q-Tip and Phife with his agile flow. While the record is a bit hard to follow, it’s uniqueness is undeniable. Busta Rhymes returns with contributions on the soulful, quicker “Dis Generation.” The rhymes continue to dazzle.
“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. “Enough!!” concludes Side A, finding the collective balancing love (and sex) and their careers.
“Is it an issue if I make you n*t? / But there’s no quality time ‘cause I forever grind.”