A Tribe Called Quest’s 18-year hiatus is over, exploding back onto the hip-hop scene with a 16-track record We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service. When an artist or group announces a record after such a long period of time, some may get excited and some may wince a little bit, worried that it won’t live up to the hype. ATCQ have produced a record that is a refreshing mix of old and new, staying true to Tribe’s style of keeping on topic, putting socially conscious rhymes on trademark jazz-infused beats.
ATCQ don’t skirt around the issues that face America today and the loss of Phife Dawg in March of this year is felt particularly on ‘Lost Somebody’. Tribe tackle the racism that is all too real in America at the moment, 2016 has seen the rise of Black Lives Matter alongside the ascendency of Donald Trump to President-elect and right now is an uncertain and terrifying time to be a minority in America. With lyrics like ‘Why y’all cool with the fuckery/ Trump and the SNL hilarity/ Troublesome times, kid, no time for comedy’ and ‘mass un-blackening is happening’, the start of the album gives us an insight to the chaotic climax of the US election. We can only expect more and more musicians to react to the election result and Tribe have started us off, police brutality and systemic racism was still a massive issue at the time of their last album 18 years ago and the frustration is evident.
The first track ‘The Space Programme’ is a call to action with lyrics that address racism over a beat that can only be from ATCQ. Over all these years, the talent hasn’t diminished whatsoever, Q-Tip’s complex rhymes and flows are still a constant presence and Phife’s voice hasn’t lost any of its distinctiveness. Features from Busta Rhymes and Consequence are hardly a surprise, having worked with Tribe for over 20 years. Elton John, Jack White, Kanye West and Andre 3000 also contribute to the album and most notably ATCQ tip their hats to the future with features by Kendrick Lamar and Anderson Paak. They’ve kept the same identity, the same focus on Afrocentrism and continue to blaze their own trail in the world of hip-hop. It’s change and continuity in one record, but has been called ‘the last album’ by Q-Tip after the loss of Phife Dawg. We Got It From Here… is the first major hip-hop album in a post-Obama world and it is a triumph.
-By Lorcan Fearon