Review: Tribe Comes Back Strong with Newest Album
More than a quarter century after their first album “People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm,” A Tribe Called Quest released “We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service” digitally on Nov. 11, with physical copies hitting stores a week later.
This album also hits the airwaves about eight months after the death of founding member Phife Dawg. He coined the name for the record and contributed heavily to the production of the album. The rest of the original members from Tribe also returned on the album.
Other rappers and artists make cameos throughout the album, including Kendrick Lamar, Talib Kweli, Anderson Paak, Andre 3000, Kanye West, Jack White and Elton John. Frequent Tribe collaborators Consequence and Busta Rhymes also make a number of appearances.
A. Harmony of Exclaim! praised the album for sticking to the group’s roots but still growing their style.
“Throughout the record, Tribe managed to deliver an updated sound,” she said, “yet retain the vintage charm that has come to distinguish them.”
Indeed, the sound of the album as a whole oozes with the low funk bass sounds heard in hits like “Can I Kick It” and “Scenario.” They also made fantastic use of samples, particularly from John’s “Bennie and the Jets” in “Solid Wall of Sound,” adding further layers of complexity and brilliance to the tracks.
The cuts on this album are definitely ones in perfect sync with the rest of the Tribe’s repertoire, albeit with a different flair in some instances.
However, much of the quality is frontloaded. The album starts off with “The Space Program,” a song that perfectly sets the tone for the rest of “We Got It.” Q-Tip’s first verse on top of a futuristically funky beat serves as a perfect call to action against oppression.
The track ends frenetically with samples from 1971’s “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” that surprisingly fit well with the tone and segue into the next track.
“We the People…,” is a cut that gets straight to the chase regarding discrimination and inequality. The combination of modern sounds and old school beats act as the ideal backdrop for a track that sounds like a part of a freestyle battle in all the best ways.
The first half of the tracks flow together like one cohesive cut themselves, with only a small but noticeable gap between “Dis Generation” and “Kids.” Each track in the first half of the album packs a punch in its own unique way that solidifies its place in the Tribe’s lineup.
The second half has the same hitting hooks and verses, but the songs do sort of blend together in a less appealing way. Notable cameos from Lamar (“Conrad Tokyo”), Paak (“Movin Backwards”), and Kweli (“The Killing Season”) do shine, but none of the tracks really stick otherwise.
In whole, many of the tracks are definite hits that explain what the Tribe is all about – activism to the tune of a great beat. However, others fall just short. Regardless, the album shines no matter the era. Jesse Fairfax of HipHopDX said it best, describing how Tribe stuck to their roots while still keeping audiences interested.
“Tribe embodies the fully fleshed out idea of the Hip Hop their impassioned audience clamors for,” Fairfax said, “work that’s soulful, thought provoking and gripping enough to transport minds away from strife to another world sonically.”
Above all else, the Tribe proved that they can still kick it. – 8.5 out of 10 vivrant things