A Tribe Called Quests Inspired Final Album Finds Wisdom in the Face of Trumps Hatred

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Released just eight months after the death of Phife Dawg, the revered hip-hop group’s final album is a masterful sendoff to the late MC—and an explicit response to these dark times.”>

There probably isnt a 2016 rap release with more sentiment attached to it than We Got It from Here, Thank You 4 Your Service, the final album from A Tribe Called Quest.

Of course, the sixth album from ATCQ arrives just under eight months after the death of Phife Dawg (Malik Taylor). The Five Foot Assassin died on March 22 at age 45 after a lengthy battle with diabetes, sparking an outpouring of grief and gratitude from Tribe fans, far and wide. At the time of his death, fans had no idea that A Tribe Called Quest had been secretly recording new material for their first album since 1998s The Love Movement. But following a well-received appearance on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon in late 2015, (their first television appearance in 15 years), Phife, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Jarobi White and Q-Tip had decided it was time to put aside whatever differences theyd held and make a new album as a group. It was during the making of the album that Phife unexpectedly passed away.

It all makes for a lot of weight hanging over a new album. Highly-anticipated doesnt feel like an apt description for what fans were feeling leading up to the release of We Got It From Here You cant really call the album long-awaited, either. Most observers had long given up any sliver of hope that A Tribe Called Quest would ever record as a unit again; the grievances between Tip and Phife were permanently documented in 2011's Beats Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest, a film that made it seem as though the then-estranged partners-in-rhyme would never be able to co-exist long enough for a full project.

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There will be a lot of praise for We Got It From Here, Thanks 4 Your Service. Those who arent at all moved by this new release from a beloved rap group from yesteryear will blame the hosannas on nostalgia and sentimentality, but this doesnt feel like an album driven by 1990s adulation. These guys sound inspired. They sound motivated. But most significantly, they sound like Tribe would sound in 2016. These songs are all driven by life experiences gathered over 20 years: friendships broken and repaired, political landscapes that have shifted three and four times since Y2K, and death. Theres something to be said for living, and how it shapes our art. Hip-hop has been consistently stereotyped as a genre driven by youthfulness; and that manifests in everything from its commodification to the way so many artists romanticize dying youngbe it via an adversarys gun or a prescription bottle. But this is life music. And A Tribe Called Quest has always made music for you to live to.

Anyone should be able to find some kind of inspiration in this 16-track double disc. Tribe came back one last time to accomplish what they set out to do more than 25 years ago. We are all much richer for joining them on their instinctive travels. Hip-hop has a broader palette because of A Tribe Called Quest. This is a perfect swan song and a great chance to salute them for all that theyve done. 18 years later, Tribe can still inspire.

Thank you for your service, guys. We got it from here.

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