A week with A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘We Got It From Here …’ album

A Tribe Called Quest

I decided to wait at least a week to give my opinion on A Tribe Called Quest’s new album We Got It From Here … Thank You 4 Your Service. I did this not only because I got it on Nov. 11 when everyone else did (no advance copy), but also because I felt the first album in 18 years by one of the greatest rap groups in history deserved more than a cursory skimming or one-listen review. Too often recently we’ve been given albums that were supposed to be “game changers” and whose praises flooded our timelines for a few days only to subsequently fade from view and play.

After solid offerings from De La Soul (Billboard No.1) and Common, many of us were already riding a golden era revival high. News of a new offering from Tribe took us over the edge.  Still shocked and mourning after the sudden death of Phife, fans knew this album could be an epic swan song for the group they loved. After a week that also included an appearance on “Saturday Night Live” and an earned spot at No.1 on Billboard, Tribe’s last effort still holds the weight of its worth.

The opening track (“Space Program”) takes us back to the formula that Tribe has always been known for, lush jazzy riffs layered over gritty beats. By the end of the track you know that this album isn’t going to be nostalgic trip to the 90’s style of doing things. The politically charged track, “We The People” powers in next signifying a progression of the A Tribe Called Quest formula and style. Not only are they on point musically, they are incorporating lyrics that echo the thoughts, feeling and fears of the time.

Standout tracks include “Kids” featuring Andre 3000, “Solid Wall of Sound” featuring Busta Rhymes, Jack White and Elton John, “Movin’ Backwards featuring Anderson Paak” and the aforementioned “We the People.” Guest contributions come from Marsha Ambrosius, Consequence, Talib Kweli, and Kanye West.

Over the past week I’ve seen a small but vocal minority criticize the direction of the album based on Q-Tip’s handling of most of the production duties. The felt the tracks and direction lend themselves more to Q-Tip’s Kamal The Abstract style than what Tribe is known for. To that, I have to mention that the 18-year layoff prevented A Tribe Called Quest from benefiting from Q-Tip’s progression in production style.

The vast majority of my peers have nothing but praises for We Got It From Here.  From my perspective as a DJ, I have to say the album has a few tracks that work for club play. That’s the main thing I look for in new music. “Kids” got immediate and head nod reaction when I dropped it at a function.

So if you’ve been on the fence about it, go ahead and grab We Got It From Here. The holiday season is coming up. I’m pretty sure this album will be a frequent topic of discussion for at least the next month. If you are a true fan, you already know. Too often our artist heroes leave us with fizzling relevance and& sounds. A Tribe Called Quest is leaving us with a bang!

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