I’ve had problems focusing on music lately, and even more problems wanting to write about it. Between the horrifying election and an incredibly busy few weeks at my day job, I just haven’t had the energy for it.
I had to emerge, though, to write a bit about A Tribe Called Quest’s shockingly strong, perfectly timed farewell album, We Got it From Here … Thank You 4 Your Service. Like pretty much every other Tribe fan on the planet, I had assumed for a long time now that we would never see another album from Q-Tip and company. Yet here we are!
1998’s The Love Movement, A Tribe Called Quest’s last album, was a step down from the group’s previous 4 efforts, and it was honestly hard to imagine they could come back this sharp and focused. They did, though, and We Got it From Here … Thank You 4 Your Service is an outright slam dunk. Using verses recorded by the late, great Phife Dawg before his death earlier this year, Q-Tip, Jarobi, and a whole bunch of guest stars all worked together to craft this fantastic record.
One thing that immediately stands out about We Got it From Here … Thank You 4 Your Service is that Tip has once again worked his magic as a producer, songwriter, and arranger. He’s unquestionably of the most underrated, influential hip-hop producers of all time, and it’s an absolute joy to listen to this record and know he still has that special touch. This entire album is jam-packed with ideas, with the emcees jumping all over one another to get out their punchlines as random dialogue and movie samples drop in out of thin air. I’m tempted to say it’s cluttered, but that would imply Tip doesn’t know what he is doing here; and he knows exactly what he’s doing.
Highlights include—well, just about every song—but opening track “The Space Program” and the Musical Youth-sampling “Dis Generation” stand out the most. “The Space Program” might just be the song of the album, and I’m ready to say it belongs on any list of the most impressive Tribe songs of all time. It’s a powerful way to open up the record, with Tip and crew rapping about unity and power over fun, energetic samples and a beat that proves Tip is as good with a drum machine as ever.
“Dis Generation” is just as good, with Tip, Jarobi, and Busta Rhymes all rapping together like each guy was too excited to wait for his own turn. And I love Phife’s appearance here: Student of the past trailblazing a daze, he raps. Not acknowledging a trend or swept up in phase/ We still the highest of commodity grade/ And you could get it, get it, get it, get it today.
And then there’s “Kids,” which teams Q-Tip up with none other than Andre 3000. Remember how exciting it was to hear him on Frank Ocean’s album this year? This is even better. I ain’t even gon’ lie, I was probably high, he spits at the beginning of the song. Just forgot to call you back, simple as that/ I ain’t no almanac, so lick my dictionary/ I might just call a cab ’cause I dig canary.
By the end of “Kids,” Tip and Andre are just trading lines back and forth, giving hip-hop heads everywhere a classic moment they could have only heard in their wildest dreams before now.
Oh yeah, and there are something like 56 other songs here, and each one is great. Do yourself a favor and give this full album a listen from beginning to end—it’s amazing what a little hip-hop can do for the worried soul.
Listen below …