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Design By Humans
Published On: Tue, Dec 20th, 2016

A Tribe Called Quest: We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service

questA Tribe Called Quest
We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service
(EPIC RECORDS GROUP)

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If you were born when A Tribe Called Quest released their previous album, The Love Movement, you’d be about as old now as they were when they started the group. In the eighteen years from then until We got it from Here…Thank You 4 Your service, they haven’t missed a beat. Most of these songs could have come out in the 90’s and wouldn’t sound out of place with their other work. Though Tribe once again have said this is their final album, it simply feels like the next step. Even without Ali Shaheed Muhammad, this record will alienate a total of zero fans.
“The Space Program,” “Dis Generation,” and “Enough!!” all have the kind of laid-back funk/soul beats that are Tribe’s signature. “Conrad Tokyo” and “Kids…” sound more contemporary however, possibly due to the influence of guest MCs Kendrick Lamar and Andre 3000. They may not have jazz the way they did on The Low End Theory, but this is a far more confrontational album. “We the People…” is an equal rights anthem that doesn’t mess around. It needs an angry synthesizer and massive drums to back up lines like “All you black folks, you must go…Muslims and gays, boy we hate your ways.” “Ego” uses distorted guitars and a solo from Jack White to make its point about the dangers of ego. They even pull out some new tricks, check out that Elton John sample on “Solid Wall of Sound,” but this album from top to bottom sounds classic.

One thing that is different is that We got it from Here was released in a world without founding member Phife Dawg. He passed away during the making, but still appears as much as possible. Otherwise the gaps are filled with the aforementioned rappers, as well as Kanye West, Talib Kweli, and longtime associates Consequence and Busta Rhymes. Phife gets a loving tribute in the moving “Lost Somebody.” Over an appropriately contemplative sample from Can, his friends trade verses remembering him. The better tribute might be “The Donald” though. Busta breaks out his dancehall voice to toast the late MC, repeating his name constantly while the name of Donald gets mixed in as well, all on top of a funky beat. Why they chose to invoke the name of our next President is anyone’s guess. His presence loomed large over the time they spent recording this album. Perhaps they are trying to say that Phife Dawg deserves to be talked about as much as Donald Trump. They certainly aren’t equating them as human beings. I think they wanted to praise his legacy as a huge figure. That’s why the last thing we hear on possibly the last A Tribe Called Quest album is the name Phife Dawg.

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A Tribe Called Quest: We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service