“Back in the day when I was a teenager, before I status, before I had a pager”, a group existed that tamed the raw assault of gangster rap; acknowledged the history of black music and culture through conscientious lyrics and beats that delved way beyond the superficial; and took Hip-Hop into its golden age. That group was “A Tribe Called Quest” and collectively Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Q-Tip and Phife Dawg changed the face of Hip-Hop through iconic albums like “Low end Theory” and “Beats Rhymes and Life” throughout the nineties, and when they disbanded at the end of that decade, they left a gaping hole in the world of Hip-Hop.
After a formidable hiatus, sighting a riff between Phife and Q, they returned to the stage in 2004 and after a tentative period of would they, won’t they the Tribe came back with the critically acclaimed record “We’ve got it from Here… Thank you 4 your service” towards the end of last year. The record stands as the legacy of Phife Dawg, you passed away during the making of the album, and a better legacy he could not have left.
It’s the Tribe doing what they do best, with a roll call that includes some of the biggest names in the Hip-Hop world and beyond including Busta Rhymes, André 3000, Kanye West and Consequence. Q-Tip dusts of his samplers, channeling beats through the mountain of his experience, from which they flow unperturbed amongst expressive samples and grooving bass lines, in that style A Tribe called Quest have been cultivating since 1989. Simple melodic refrains and staccato beats that reference the origins of hip-hop counterpoint remarkable vocal expressions that acutely analyses the thin reality of our social fabric. Without diverting from a recipe they’ve mastered since their humble beginnings “We’ve got it from Here… Thank you 4 your service” stands as a prime example in a genre that today has largely disappeared up its own ass today.
It’s the sound of Hip-Hop’s before it fell for the trappings of fame, hype, trend or narcissism and stands as a testament to “A Tribe Called Quest’s” enduring appeal, that have made them legends in their field, and like the albums that came before it “We’ve got it from Here… Thank you 4 your service” and its timeless aesthetic will stand as yet another testament to their legacy.