Review Summary: Returning to the studio after 18 years, Tribe are fresh as ever and on top of their game for their final album, “We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service.”
This past Saturday on SNL A Tribe Called Quest was the musical guest and performed “We the People…” which turned into a historic moment when the lights went dim, Phife’s verse came up, and a banner fell from the ceiling displaying Phife Dawg. For the rest of the song Q-Tip and White dance around the banner, occasionally holding up the mike for Phife when his line comes in. Months after his death, Tribe releases their sixth and final album which features all four original members, long-time collaborators Busta Rhymes and Consequence, along with contributions from several great artists (Kendrick Lamar, Elton John, Kayne West, Jack White, Anderson Paak., Andre 3000). After one listen of this hour long, double disc, hip-hop adventure, the realization that 90’s rapper’s releasing relevant music in 2010’s is not improbable, it’s now happened twice this year alone. (The other being De La Soul, if you I lost you.)
If I had to summarize the album using just one sentence: Smooth like butter, baby. Recognized as the pioneers of alternative hip-hop, arguably the most intelligent rap group of the 90’s, and possibly the most consistent rap group of all time, Tribe rarely disappoints (Besides their one misstep, “The Love Movement”). Tribe signature sound has always blended slick flows spread across simple, hard hitting, snare cracking, feet stomping, snazzy jazz beats; and the new record is no exception. Most of the new album’s tracks are new classics like “We The People…” or “Mobius,” bringing their old sound to modern production. The results are unquestionably successful, as the beats and rhythms from “We got it from Here…” are easily some of the tastiest we’ve heard all year. And don’t even question Q-Tip’s flow the entire album, it’s truly something of it’s own; not comparable with any of the rap act’s currently trending. Standout moments are frequent throughout, with glowing contributions that never outshine Tribe at any moment, such as Andre 3000 on “Kids…” whose verse kick off one of the album’s finest moments, making an already good song incredible.
Admittedly, there are a few points where interest wears thin, but after 18 years with no expectations of a sixth album from Tribe, this is far better than most could imagine. If you hold it up to the standards of The Low End or Midnight, it gets surprising close to reaching that level, but not quite and never for long enough. When all is said and done, A Tribe Called Quest will go down in history as one of the best and most influential rap groups of all time, and what a hell of a way to go out!