By Daniel Marco, Blogs Editor
Key Tracks: “We the People….,” “Solid Wall of Sound,” “Lost Somebody”
In 1998, critically acclaimed and innovative hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest released their last album, The Love Movement. Then, amid tensions between the group members as well as ongoing frustrations with their record label, they split up, announcing the album would be their last. Over the ensuing 18 years, rumors swirled about the possibility of the group reuniting for one final record, finally culminating in the release of We got it from Here…Thank You 4 Your service last week.
Released amid the death of legendary MC Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor earlier this year, We got it from Here… touches on the deeply divided nature of our election-year country and the frightening path our nation could be headed towards. Nowhere is this more evident than in “We the People….,” which crescendos with the chorus “All you black folks, you must go / All you Mexicans, you must go / All you poor folks, you must go / Muslims and gays, boy we hate your ways.”
In addition to social commentaries, We got it from Here… also offers a touching tribute to the dearly departed Phife Dawg and the humble beginnings of the group in the songs “Solid Wall of Sound” and “Lost Somebody.” Phife even makes it on to many of the tracks in the form of pre-recorded verses taped at group leader Q-Tip’s studio before his death.
What makes this album so great is its timelessness. Even though it’s their first release in 18 years, Tribe’s sound isn’t “stuck” in the 90s, yet it doesn’t necessarily sound like a modern day rap album either; it possesses its own unique sound, and with each listen you hear different nuances and rhythms, prompting you to come back again and again. The only thing that kept We got if from Here… from earning a higher score was that it could’ve used a lot more of Phife and his boundless, energetic rap style, though that obviously was out of their control.
We’ve never needed Tribe more than we do right now. With everything that’s been happening in our country recently, it’s easy to press the panic button and lapse into mental breakdown, or simply look the other way and do nothing when you see something wrong. But amid all the turmoil, A Tribe Called Quest rebelliously stands tall, as they did on their recent and breathtaking performance on SNL, crying out, “Everybody stand up, one fist in the air. We are all one. We are The People…”