A Tribe Called Quest - We Got It From Here, Thank You 4 Your Service (2016)

A Tribe Called Quest
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A Tribe Called Quest - We Got It From Here, Thank You 4 Your Service  

November, 2015: with the DVRs on lock and volume pumped, A Tribe Called Quest sent sonic waves of excitement through the music world by celebrating the 25th anniversary reissue of their seminal debut, People's Instinctive Travels and Paths Of Rhythm, via a live performance on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. 

Ecstatic fans mouthed every word as Jarobi White, Malik "Phife Dawg" Taylor, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Kamaal "Q-Tip" Fareed flipped verses and exchanged couplets with a chemistry unseen in years. There was no commentary from the Questers, but as they exited stage right from the standing ovation, synergy flowed, ideas bloomed and friendships were cemented. 

A Tribe Called Quest - We Got It From Here, Thank You 4 Your Service  

November, 2015: with the DVRs on lock and volume pumped, A Tribe Called Quest sent sonic waves of excitement through the music world by celebrating the 25th anniversary reissue of their seminal debut, People's Instinctive Travels and Paths Of Rhythm, via a live performance on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. 

Ecstatic fans mouthed every word as Jarobi White, Malik "Phife Dawg" Taylor, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Kamaal "Q-Tip" Fareed flipped verses and exchanged couplets with a chemistry unseen in years. There was no commentary from the Questers, but as they exited stage right from the standing ovation, synergy flowed, ideas bloomed and friendships were cemented. 

The hip-hop legends did more than reunite for the moment: they expanded the newfound energy into what would become the group's final album. Phife's unexpected passing nearly derailed things altogether but the remaining Tribe soldiered on through the pain and dropped We Got It From Here, Thank You 4 Your Service, a mesmerizing multi-layered opus that encapsulates why the group became so successful, so revered and now, will be so missed. 

In comparison to their pedestrian (and likely obligatory) 1998 release, ironically entitled The Love Movement, We Got It crackles with energy and inspiration. Phife's pitch mellowed with age, but his familiar cadence won't be denied, matching Q-Tip rhyme for rhyme on the urgent opener, “The Space Program,” and rolling into Jamaican patois on the blistering rebel yell, “We The People.” The beats and samples are woven together with aplomb, taking obscure and unexpected soundbites, bars and verses and sprinkling them over thunderous beats and erratic scratches: how many living performers have the abstract mindset it takes to isolate an Elton verse----“You’re gonna hear electric music, solid walls of sound”----loop it and sprawl it across a banging beat (“Solid Wall of Sound”)? No. One. Q-Tip’s creative process, much like his vinyl collection, is both nebulous and sophisticated. 

Hearing this dynamic duo together again would have been enough for most, but ATCQ turned their final set into a star-studded one: Andre 3000’s syrupy drawl opens the frenetic “Kids,” Busta Rhymes is back with the ruckus on “Dis Generation,” Kendrick Lamar is featured in “Conrad Tokyo,” and Q’-Tip’s cousin, Consequence, holds his own with Talib Qweli and everyone’s favorite madman, Kanye West, on the seething “Killing Season.” 

It wouldn’t be a proper Quest release without the cerebral wordplay and melodic midtempos, which We Got It also delivers: the heady “Melatonin” is about the need for chill, “Enough” is a sensual ode to relationships and inevitably, “Lost Somebody” is for their departed “Five Foot Assassin.” A haunting chorus accompanies Jarobi White’s and Q-Tip’s verses expressing their love and memories, even though he and the latter frequently clashed in and out of the studio: “Malik, I would treat you like little brother that would give you fist sometimes overbearing/ though I thought it was for your benefit, despite all the spastic s*** and cinematic we documented. The one thing I appreciate, you and I, we never pretended rhymes/we would write it out, hard times, fight it out. Made race face to face, made it right/and now you riding out, out, out, out .Damn.

Before he transitioned, Phife Dawg summed it up their legacy early on in “We The People”: “The Tribe be the best in their division, Shaheed Mohammad cut it with precision/Who can come back years later and still hit the shot/Yet still they try to move me off the [expletive] block.” No other hip-hop performers can match the eclecticism, the charisma and the musical mosaics A Tribe Called Quest created to anchor it all together. As final as this collection is, the legacy and impact of We Got It….. has only begun. Their blood, sweat, heart and tears poured from the booth into the mix, so as far as fans will be concerned, they still and will always exist. Forever.  Long live the Tribe. Enthusiastically Recommended 

By Melody Charles

 
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