It’s been nearly 20 years since the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest released its last album. With the recent passing of their friend and fellow MC, Phife Dog (may he rest in peace), many thought the group had performed its last hurrah.
So the new release, “We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service,” is a surprise. Recorded shortly before Phife Dog’s passing, the album came out in November and features 16 tracks.
Throughout all tracks, there is a call to action. There is commentary about the rapid expansion of gentrification in minority neighborhoods, the appropriation of black culture and the string of shootings of unarmed black men. This album is stuffed with clever commentary on the various social and economic issues plaguing us today. It is a much needed meditation on current problems.
At a time when hip hop has slowly become a field for non sequitur artists composing scatter music and lazy lyrics, it’s refreshing to see an album from seasoned veterans who thankfully return the genre to its activist roots.
“We Got It From Here…” will remind many of why they fell in love with hip hop and rap music in the first place, and hopefully bring the uninitiated into the fold with its timeless themes of civil unrest, tolerance and community.
With all the commentary and social awareness, one might assume the album to be a preachy and heavy-handed work that overstates its messages. However, that could not be further from the truth. The passion and heart are profoundly felt in each track.
The final track, “The Donald,” a loving tribute from the group to their fallen friend and fellow collaborator, Phife Dog, concludes the album with a sense of closure. Sure to be much talked about in the coming weeks, A Tribe Called Quest has done it again, delivering a powerful blow for the hip hop and rap community and simultaneously providing for those who otherwise wouldn’t have a voice, a soapbox to stand on.