A Tribe Called Quest’s Last LP Is Revolution On
Tribe Called Quest recently stopped the world with the release of their sixth (and final) album, We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service. The album is a dual endeavor, as it’s a homage to the late, great, Phife Dawg as well as a stark account of life for the 99%. The project is a fitting finale to the legendary group’s enormous contribution to the culture of hip hop and overall blackness.
The album features all the original members of the group, and some of their long time collaborators, such as Consequence and Busta Rhymes sharing the mic with heavy hitting newcomers such as Anderson Paak, and Kendrick Lamar. The all-star ensemble collectively created one of the most socially charged pieces of modern art since J. Cole’s and Kendrick’s projects dropped prior. From police brutality, the state of women’s rights, the nefarious Donald Trump, improper politics, and the opinions of those oppressed by their policies, they address everything.
This album contains conceptual elements from their classic works woven into the anatomy of a new sonic framework. The unapologetic blackness, and unorthodox yet masterful lyricism is all still there, such as on album standout “We, The People,” featuring Q-Tip and Phife Dawg showcasing their everlasting chemistry with tandem verses.
Lyrics like Q-Tip’s, “the fog in the smog of new media that logs / false narratives of guys that came up against the odds / we not just nigga rappers with the bars / it’s kismet that we cosmic with the stars” eloquently showcase the level that ATCQ is functioning at throughout the entire album.
The hook to ”We, The People” is a satirical account of the way the oppressed people are regarded by their oppressors.
“All you Black folks, you must go. All you Mexicans, you must go. And all you poor folks, you must go. Muslims and gays, boy, we hate your ways. So all you bad folks, you must go.” Q-Tip highlights every oppressed party present then addresses them from the point of view of their oppressor. In tandem with Q-Tip and Phife’s incisive lyrics, the hook evens the playing field, operating as a sly tool for empowerment and education.
Even when the album shifts into a lighter tone on tracks like “Kids” and “Dis Generation,” the songs are still capable of evoking conscious conversation.
The project does a beautiful job at blending all of the components that made ATCQ great in the first place while leaving room to showcase their growth as artists and MCs. It’s fresh, yet nostalgic. Controversial, yet accessible. Cocky, yet humble. It arms the listener with the tools necessary to upstart the flames of rebellion and awakening within oneself. It’s the perfect send off for a group of individuals who have gone above and beyond for the culture, on and off wax. As a journalist and rhymer, I speak on behalf of every sound minded individual when I say this: we got it from here… thank you for your service Tribe.