A Tribe Called Quest


We got it from here… Thank You 4 Your service

2016

Genre: Hip Hop

Style: Conscious

Label: Epic Records

Review taken from Michael Madden’s review over at Consequence of Sound

By and large, We got it from Here… has the classic Tribe sound: a warm and crisp confluence of East Coast hip-hop, jazz, and more, all mixed and mastered impeccably. While some aspects of the sound are dated, others feel fresh. The live instrumentation — guitar, keys, bass, drums, and more played by the likes of Q-Tip, Jack White (!), and Elton John (!!) — makes the album feel as alive as any other rap release made today, while the guest vocals from relatively new faces like Kendrick Lamar and Anderson .Paak further modernize the sound. Meanwhile, the members of Tribe all come with a sense of urgency and camaraderie. It never feels like they’re just going through the motions.

Lyrically, the album is particularly of-the-time, starting with opener “The Space Program”. “It’s time to go left and not right/ Gotta get it together forever/ Gotta get it together for brothers/ Gotta get it together for sisters,” Tip and Phife rap during the chorus, powerfully igniting the album’s sociopolitical side. The very next song, “We the People….”, is even more overt, with Tip and Phife tackling topics including gentrification, deportation, and homophobia. Later, on the Kendrick collab, “Conrad Tokyo”, Phife is at his most fed-up: “Move with the fuckery/ Trump and the SNL hilarity/ Troublesome times, kid, no time for comedy.” All of this is delivered with the authentic sense of dissatisfaction that tends to be at the heart of the best political music.

As much as they represented the Native Tongues collective and Afrocentrism, Tribe never got carried away with their intellectual tendencies, leaving plenty of room for shit talk and technical showmanship. We got it… is a well-executed balance of that, too. The flows are consistently dazzling, whether they’re coming from a Tribe member, longtime collaborators Busta Rhymes and Consequence, or the various other rappers (like Andre 3000, Talib Kweli, and Kendrick). Tribe is still clowning corny MCs, too, as Phife does so swiftly on closing track “The Donald”: “Fuck your ass-cheek flows with bars sweeter than scones.” There’s swagger in that line, and in the end, one of the most appealing aspects of the album is how much fun everyone seemingly had while making it.

Tribe didn’t finish the album until after Phife passed, and certain moments wouldn’t be here if he were still alive. On “Black Spasmodic”, Tip fondly remembers his friend: “Through mixing chords and boards and even drum machines/ He be saying, ‘Nigga, fuck awards, keep repping Queens.’” Singer Katia Cadet’s chorus on “Lost Somebody” is likely to induce tears from longtime Tribe fans: “Have you ever lost somebody?/ Way before ya got to dream?/ No more crying, he’s in sunshine.” It’s a sentiment similar to something White said of Phife in that same NYT interview: “Doing this album killed him. And he was very happy to go out like that.” Assuming this is the last Tribe album, as it supposedly is, everyone else involved in its making should be pleased with it as a goodbye, too.