[FAVORITE ALBUMS 2016] A TRIBE CALLED QUEST ‘WE GOT IT FROM HERE…THANK YOU 4 YOUR SERVICE’
WE GOT IT FROM HERE…THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE
If asked to choose my favorite thing about growing up with siblings a decade older, it would easily be the fact that I got to inherit their music library. My love for legendary hip-hop artists, A Tribe Called Quest, are an undeniable result of my family situation. Largely associated with hip-hops prodigious past, I would have never imagined that 18 years after their last release The Love Movement they would release an album that I would be able to experience for the first time. Nearly two decades sans new material and a disintegration between the groups members that is highlighted in the highly recommended 2011 documentary Beats, Rhymes & Life, was enough justification to hold little to no hope in even the most convincing of rumors surrounding their comeback. I, and ATCQ fans alike, had to settle in acceptance that the bands lived memory would only continue to be in the form of cassettes, vinyl and heavily overpriced t-shirts at Urban Outfitters.
However, this year is one that (thankfully) secreted numerous blast from the past creations such as Stranger Things, The Get Down and Rogue One that packed the flashbacks on thick. ATCQs’ comeback We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service produced nostalgia at its finest and most refreshing that left us more with a rekindled admiration for a timeless sound, rather than heavy longing and escapism of 80’s sci-fi. Those who still held a capacity for hope were on the right track when they expected a reunion this year to celebration the 25th anniversary of the masterpiece that is The Low End Theory. Unfortunately, ATCQ fell victim to the curse of 2016 early on in the year when they lost the groups’ heavy hitter, and prime advocate for reunification, Phife Dawg. So when the album released in November, Thank You seemed to have composited into a celebratory homage for a milestone in their musical career, a keen critique of the sociopolitical climate and a tribute to their fallen member.
One spin will easily prove that the album rediscovered the magic ATCQ trademarked in providing the atmospheric haze of sociopolitical reflections over the smoothest tracking designed for easy listening. While Q-Tip is attributed to taking center stage on a majority of the groups past productions, Thank You really found the sweet spot in powerfully highlighting each members (including honorary members Consequence and Busta Rhymes) developed skills and contributions. Additionally, the extra edge this album holds is its successful collaboration with some of the industries heavy hitters and protégées that they themselves have mentored and helped craft. Who else could take the vocals of Elton John, guitar riffs of Jack White and lyricism of Andre 3000 and maneuver them in a way that is complimentary without compromising any aspect of a signature sound? Or add the likes of Kanye, Kendrick or Anderson .Paak and not become overshadowed after almost 20 years?
Overall, Thank You once again proves that ATCQ are simply the best at what they do and deserve their titles as legends. They have no need to break new ground or merge into modern mainstream. Their musical conception redefined hip-hop sonically and expanded the understanding on the worlds it had the ability to explore. Now decades later the jazz infused rappers have come back to remind us they still hold the ability to produce a feel good album that dances between political poetry, witty humor and playful deliverance. And a feel good album was what we all needed in November to keep moving forward. Sadly the last LP we will get from them with the loss of Phife, a Tribe Called Quest has solidified that the hip-hop scene has always been their own personal revolving door, able to deliver their mantra of electric relaxation as they come and go on their own terms. So to Tribe I say, I am glad that you were the ones who took it from here and thank YOU for your service.