Tribe’s new album exceeds all expectations and more

A Tribe Called Quest released another album on Nov. 11. (Gerald Angeles/Flickr, Creative Commons)

Eighteen years after the release of their last album, A Tribe Called Quest is back. Working on the project for just about a year, the 90s hip-hop group put together one last album called “We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service” which came out on Nov. 11. The release of this album was particularly special because it came just months after the death of one of Tribe’s members, the beloved Phife Dawg, who died from complications from diabetes in March.

As someone who was a casual listener of ATCQ in the past, I really only knew some of the classics like “Award Tour,” “Scenario,” “Can I Kick It?” and “Check the Rhime,” along with a handful more. And I thoroughly enjoyed all those songs, but in particular, I always loved Phife Dawg’s verses the most for his wit and flow with bars like “Brothers front, they say the Tribe can’t flow/But we’ve been known to do the impossible like Broadway Joe”.

So when Tribe’s Q-Tip took to Twitter on Oct. 27 to confirm the album was coming out in just over two weeks, I was immediately drawn to the album, especially to see what they would do regarding Phife’s death in the middle of production. Upon my first listen, I was actually speechless. The beats they used in numerous songs had an air of nostalgia infused with modern sounds as well, making the album a real masterpiece.

In particular, the song “Ego” stood out to me as brilliant lyrically and produced with the intention of mixing ATCQ’s old sound with the newer sounds of this generation’s hip-hop. Ego contains arguably some of the best lines in the album, including “I’ll take the biggest house in Calabasas/Anyone for Michael Phelps swimming classes?” Jack White also features on the track with a powerful guitar solo.

White isn’t the only collaborator on the album either, as Tribe called upon a number of their 90s peers and more contemporary artists to contribute to their final masterpiece. Tons of big names like Kanye West, Elton John, Andre 3000, Kendrick Lamar, Busta Rhymes and others all added valuable verses and solos to “We got it from Here…” making the album relevant to fans of several genres of music.

Another one of the better songs on the album, in my opinion, is “Black Spasmodic”, which is a track that ATCQ uses to show how they’re back and still have better verses than anyone else out there. With Phife Dawg rapping in his best Trinidadian accent, he wittily calls out other rappers in the game, “And how do you touch mic with flows uncertain?/Speak game dry, boy, that flow ain’t workin'.”

Tribe also uses the album to make somewhat of a political statement, something they didn’t really venture into too much in their earlier works. “We the People…” is about as direct as it gets when it comes to discussing the rights of African-Americans, Muslims, Mexicans and homosexuals being threatened. The song was especially relevant since it was released days after the presidential election.

“We got it from Here…” closes with the song “The Donald”, which could be perceived as a song about Donald Trump, but in fact is one of several tribute songs to Phife on the album. Don Juice was one of Phife Dawg’s lesser known nicknames and to close the record with this song in memory of his passing was a fantastic way to go out.

Overall, I really cannot say enough about the greatness of this album. A Tribe Called Quest did so well to make this album incredibly special, with its relevance to current issues, its tribute to the fallen Phife and its inventive beats and rhythms that stay true to what the old Tribe was like while also producing a modern hip-hop album with numerous stars to collaborate. For all these reasons, I have to give ATCQ a five out of five stars. “We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service” is a masterpiece that won’t soon be forgotten.