Wednesday, 23 November 2016

A Tribe Called Quest "We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service" (2016)


Its been eighteen years... and I doubt anyone saw this coming. The legendary ATQC, innovators of Jazz Hop and creators of one of Hip Hop's greatest records "The Low End Theory", played their last ever shows a few years back and with the sad passing of Phife Dawg earlier this year the groups fate seemed final. Turns out they resolved their differences after the runion tour and decided to record a new record in secret. So imagine the astonishment I felt when I got an email announcing its release, more so at how good of a record it is and what a blessing to hear Phife on the record. How much of this was created with out his input I'm not sure but he came up with the title and the rest of the group aren't quite sure of its meaning.

I can't help but think its a tip of the cap to show the old traditions still have value in today's music. ATCQ sound like a group in the moment, flowing in the waters of inspiration and reinvigorating their identity because "We Got It" feels as if their is no absence. No greasing of the gears, no rough edges, they are in sync and doing what they do best. This is no nostalgia trip though, fresh production ideas and choices dominate this record without deterring from that warm hearted Jazz Hop soul the group always had. They also bring a star studded set of features, from Kendrick Lamar to Kanye West. Andree 3000 of Outkast and even their old friend Busta Rhymes. Speaking of old friends, Jarobi White is on the record, who only took part in the groups their first record.

Split into two sides of eight tracks the record flows effortlessly as a sixty minute piece, due much to its drifting from traditional song structures into artsy organic flows of creative sampling between the verses and chorus's. Some of this manifests with bold intrusive sampling, electronic Kraftwerk alike noises beep away in the start and end of tracks as well as snippets from Willy Wonker and the classic Thriller evil laugh in the records opening track. Q-Tip's production has no boundaries, its as if hes unbottling held back creativity and so many of his choices work. On "Lost Somebody" he lets the drum machine rapid fire like its glitching out. Bold, off key and different. The song even cuts to silence before some guitar jamming noises through into the next track. These experiments are fantastic but between them a set of solid and expressive loops, from the boom bap beat of "We The People" to the Reggae Dub grooves of "Black Spasmodic" Q-Tip finds all shades of Soul, Jazz and R&B to keep the flavors flowing from start to end.

Much of that bottled up creativity speaks to Phife and Jarobi who toy with afrocentric accents between sets of inspired raps. Q-Tip is also on point as the group talk to many relevant issues in the wake of Trump's election, "Muslims and Gays, boy we hate your ways". Id have to hand verse of the record to Kendrick Lamar who drops a impassioned rap on "Conrad Tokyo", his words come so fast with so much weight I feel like each listen adds a new dimension to the wieght of his words. The rest of the track meanders in the echo of his words while a keyboard solo jams away. Its a fantastic choice to let the instrumental take steer of the ship for the rest of the song.

The record rounds up with "Donald" a Phife Dawg track, layered with sampling and snippets of news presenters saying the president elects first name. I can't help but think the songs design is a tip to Phife's classic line "I cash more checks than Donald Trump". It an remarkable record and more so for its exceptional circumstances. One things for sure the substance is there and we have been gifted a wonderful album that must be respected, fans like myself would love more of this I'm sure but the reality is this is a send off, a twilight special and how blessed are we to hear it. One things for certain, the tribe can kick it! Yes they can.

Favorite Songs: We The People, Solid Wall Of Sound, Conrad Tokyo, Ego
Rating: 8/10

1 comment:

  1. god damn I love these guys! the beat and music video on we the people is i n s a n e

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