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Last month, A Tribe Called Quest released their sixth and final studio album after the passing of Phife Dawg earlier this year. As far as chart positions go, it’s also their most successful album, topping the US billboard charts, peaking at number 3 on the Canadian charts, and securing top 20 and top 30 positions in New Zealand and the UK.
People had been waiting for this album for years, especially after Michael Rapaport’s documentary “Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest” came out in 2011. The group’s reunion appearance on Jimmy Fallon last year gave fans new hope, and, this time, it actually marked the beginning of the works on “We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service.”
Now, reunion albums can be tricky. They often give off the feeling that they were created for financial reasons, and, at the very least, the audience wonders if the chemistry a group once had will still be there after years of working on solo projects (18 years in the case of Tribe). Regarding hip hop which has undergone an immense transformation since the 1990s when ATCQ published their previous five albums, it seems even more difficult for older artists to stay relevant, no matter how respected they are in the genre. The project faced further complications when Phife Dawg passed away eight months before the album’s release at the age of 45 years as a result of his diabetes. This, of course, meant people were worried that random recordings would be pieced together.
And yet, none of what we worried about happened. The album is just as good as one would expect from Tribe.
The main producer on “We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service” is Q-Tip as Ali Shaheed Muhammad was not available to work on the album which features guest appearances from Busta Rhymes, Talib Kweli, André 3000, Kendrick Lamar, and Elton John, and contains 16 tracks.
A Tribe Called Quest have always been known for their jazzy sounds and conscious but humorous lyrics. The presidential campaign of Donald Trump obviously gave them a lot of material to put into music, but there are other social justice issues, such as gentrification, racism, deportation, and homophobia that are being addressed on “We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service.” The album has great social relevance without ever sounding forced. Soundwise it is neither dated nor jumping on any modern bandwagons - it is simply Tribe, the mellow, jazzy sounds that we are used to.
Extraordinary moments on the album are the several appearances Busta Rhymes makes whom we haven't heard at this level in a long time.
Of course, Phife Dawg's death plays a role without being central to the album. On “Black Spasmodus” Q-Tip raps words he imagines Phife telling him, “Lost Somebody” is a heartfelt eulogy, and the last track called “The Donald” is not about Trump, but about Phife Dawg. And the final words on the album are, indeed, “Phife Dawg.”
We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service - Tracklist
1. The Space Program
2. We The People
3. Whateva Will Be
4. Solid Wall of Sound
5. Dis Generation
2. Black Spasmodic
3. The Killing Season
4. Lost Somebody
5. Movin Backwards
6. Conrad Tokyo
8. The Donald
Half Bulgarian Turk, half German living life as an expat in Greece.