20+ years into the game A Tribe Called Quest has definitely made their mark on Hip Hop, with countless classics over the years that of course includes the critically acclaimed People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, Low End Theory, and Midnight Marauders, along with the criminally underrated Beats, Rhymes, and Life and The Love Movement - all of which has made Tribe what we call Hip Hop royalty - a legendary group that helped define the golden era of the genre.
Of course that goes all the way back to the influential and all too memorable 1990’s, a time that many Hip Hop fans would love to get back to. Yet that’s indeed how long it’s been since Tribe was together and on top of charts, 16 years to be exact, and now out of nowhere Q Tip, Phife, and Jarobi are back! (without DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad this time around) - at a time when Hip Hop and the world alike are completely upside down - and the good spirits of Tribe are needed more than ever.
In fact the spirit of Tribe is what perhaps best describes this record, as in a year where pop music lost a variety of legends (Prince, David Bowie, George Michael), Hip Hop also lost one of their own, tragically losing Phife at the tender age of 45 after a lifelong battle with Diabetes - though not before leaving behind one more album and a proper farewell…
We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service has been coined as A Tribe Called Quest’s 6th and final album, and it’s critiqued track by track below
The Space Program
“Imagine for one second all the people in poverty, no matter the skin tone, culture or time zone, think the ones who got it would even think to throw you a bone? moved you out your neighborhood, did they find you a home?” The intro off We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service certainly sets the tone for what’s to come; a political and culturally conscious album right on time considering the current climate of our nation. On this record Q Tip trades verses with Jarobi and the aforementioned and recently deceased Phife Dawg (legend, may he rest in paradise), and they all speak on behalf of the disenfranchised with thoughtful lyrics and effortless delivery that serves as a reminder why these kids from Queens are indeed Hip Hop royalty.
We The People…
“You bastards overlooking street art, better yet, street smarts but you keep us off the charts, so motherfuck your numbers and your statisticians, fuck y'all know about true competition? that's like a AL pitcher on deck talking about he hittin', the only one who's hitting are the ones that's currently spittin', we got your missy smitten rubbing on her little kitten, dreaming of a world that's equal for women with no division, boy, I tell you that's vision, like Tony Romo when he hitting Witten, The Tribe be the best in they division” R.I.P. Phife 🙏 these bars are 🔥🔥🔥
Whateva Will Be
“I just wanna feel as liberated as lions in Liberia, cause recently my heart turned cold as Siberia, cause everywhere I go bein cold is the criteria, let's see how well you know all your Tribe trivia” This time affiliated member Consequence lends a verse along with the other members of Tribe, who all effectively rhyme about social issues with a level of awareness and lyricism that is often unfound in today’s genre of rap. There’s also a nice Que Sera sample that’s perhaps a symbol of underlying hope despite our present circumstances.
Solid Wall of Sound ft Elton John, Busta Rhymes, & Jack White
“Leave that to me, el-Hajj Malik, the man with a plan who made it real for us all, like Marauders on a mission when we killin' dance halls” Now this is legendary… the Q Tip production with the Elton John ‘Benny and the Jets’ sample is perfect, and it’s evident that all the artists worked together on this record, as it all blends together in a way that can’t be achieved through any method less organic. You can tell all the artists involved put their hearts and souls into these records, and with this track in particular their vision truly worked, (including the Jamaican dancehall flow that continues to make it’s mark on hip hop one record at a time).
Dis Generation ft Busta Rhymes
“Talk to Joey, Earl, Kendrick, and Cole, gatekeepers of flow, they are extensions of instinctual soul” In this record all four artists (Tip, Phife, Jarobi, & Busta) trade rhymes within the same verses and they perfectly complement one another, as is the case throughout the album, highlighting the fact that records sound better when artists actually work together (as opposed to sending verses through email) - nonetheless Tribe took a throwback approach while paying homage to some of the new artists that are carrying on tradition.
Kids… ft Andre 3000
“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 rules, mom, I think you fuckin' lied to me, three stacks said all this shit is fantasy” On this record Andre 3000 and Q Tip trade the first two verses and collaborate on the third… and it goes without saying that Hip Hop is undeniably better for it… both artists deliver and this is a strong addition to both of their respective catalogues.
Melatonin ft Marsha Ambrosius & Abbey Smith
“I said I rarely dream in color but (they don't know), and every brother ain't a brother but (they don't know), pop melatonin like they Swedish Fish (they don't know), to give her everything's my dying wish (they don't know)” This one is smooth, which from a rapping perspective is a Q Tip solo record and this is one of his best performances in years… honestly Q Tip legitimately FLEXED on this record and all throughout this album, while firmly reminding everyone that the Queens MC is not only a living legend but that his best work may not even be behind him. If anyone thought Tip was washed they were wrong, and if they need any proof tell em to play this record.
“Is this enough? Is this enough love that I give to you?” Sampling their own throwback classic Bonita Applebum this is incredibly smooth production to ride out to and enjoy
Mobius ft Consequence & Busta Rhymes
“I break bread, ribs, hundred dollar bills, dream about Bugattis and other four-wheels, they say Illuminati and other ordeals, is how my lawyer got me to avoid a raw deal” Cons back with Tribe and it’s a beautiful thing… here he spits a fire verse that interpolates Prodigy of Mobb Deep’s 'Keep It Thoro'… and Busta does what Busta does and it's overall a solid album cut
Black Spasmodic ft Consequence
“Rip every stage with grace, look right dead in they face, live the Tribe principle of havin impeccable taste, enjoy that breath like that one was your last one left, if you don’t believe me, Tip, there’s truly life after death, so refer to the Biggie covers and shoutout my Trini brothers, and please check in on my mother… Malik Izaak, call me shorty” In this creative record Q Tip has Phife’s ‘spirit’ speak through him… and it’s epic in every way...
The Killing Season ft Talib Kweli, Consequence, & Kanye West
“It must be killing season, on the menu strangefruit, whose juices fill the progress of this here very nation, whose states has grown bitter through justice expiration, these fruitful trees are rooted in bloody soil and torment, things haven’t really changed” Jarobi is the only one from Tribe with a verse on this one, but Q Tip arguably has the record’s best performance with the stellar production, although Cons & Kweli both deliver with their guest verses and Kanye lends his voice to the hook as well.
“Walt met Cheryl, Cheryl met Walt, Trinidadian love sprouting through the asphalt, love was consummated and the angels registrated, two were to be born but only one of 'em made it, inside a cloud of sorrow, a silver lining and joy, it’s a bouncing baby boy, a king’s name they would employ, and before he even squeaks, it’s decided it’s Malik” In a tribute to their fallen comrade, Tip & Jarobi trade verses to say their proper goodbyes to Phife Dawg, and per usual with Tribe it’s incredibly descriptive all the while spit from the soul. As described in Tip’s legendary verse above, Phife’s real name is Malik, and he was actually a twin to his brother Mikal who sadly died at birth. Nonetheless Phife grew to be a legendary MC that will be remembered forever for his style and creativity, and one who is undeniably deserving of such an honorable tribute.
“I spun around without a care, when I stopped, I felt lost....” Tribe featuring Anderson Paak? Enough said… should be no surprise this record is fire as Paak continues to annihilate every instrumental touches and this one certainly isn’t any different.
Conrad Tokyo ft Kendrick Lamar
“Toleration for devastation, got a hunger for sin, every nation Obama nation, let the coroner in, crooked faces, red and blue laces for the color of men, just embrace it and die alone, song of revelation, reverends and cattles racing, devils and demons and Deuteronomy, fumigate our economy, illuminate broken dreams, and manifest all insanity, look around, sayonara tomorrow, it's just blood on the ground” Kendrick Lamar spits a cool 8 bars but we needed more…
“Ego make you violent or govern like a tyrant, or switch a dictionary's word from vibrant to vivrant, fool the thirsty people, selling tap water in bottles, fooled a girl with NYU scholarship and now she models, Ego has no ending, has people pretending, religious zealots get jealous cause guys want their defending, this is the last Tribe and our ego hopes that you felt us, and closing for our ego, we know only God can help us” Q Tip spits two verses over his own production - with additional guitar riffs from Jack White of the White Stripes - and describes the human ego better than Sigmund Freud… and for what it’s worth he should share some of these sentiments with his good friend Kanye West.
The Donald ft Katia Cadet & Busta Rhymes
“Phife Dawg, what a go on with the crew? Nuff ting, that's why me had to come through, Phife Dawg, you spit wicked every verse, them no say, respect the Trini man first” Busta spits his verse using Trinidadian slang in honor of the fallen Phife Dawg - as he does throughout the album - and his tone and accent is 100% on point thanks to his own Jamaican roots that uses the same Patois dialect. Although the album is indeed politically conscious, the title of this record is one more tribute to Phife, who along with being known as ‘The Five Foot Assassin’ also went by the name ‘Don Juice.’
Overall this is a solid farewell album in every way, as not only is it significant because of Phife’s recent passing, but the music on it is both thoughtful and creative - whereas the quality of production and lyricism put forth by Q Tip is one of the best surprises in recent memory. In fact all the members of Tribe flexed on this record, as did all the high profile guest appearances, and put altogether this album delivers on every track from beginning to end. It’s in fact the perfect farewell from arguably the most immaculate Hip Hop group of all time… long live ATCQ and keep the music playing forever...