FINAL GRADE

Epic Records

A Tribe Called Quest

We got it from Here... Thank You 4 Your service

by KV

Over three decades since their formation and eighteen years since their last album, A Tribe Called Quest have released their swan song. The most immediate aspect of We got it from Here...Thank You 4 Your service is that it is neither a throwback to a time long past, nor is it a ham-fisted attempt to reinvent and keep up with the times. Instead, it’s what ATCQ has always been: completely comfortable with its place in the world.

 

All members from the group’s original lineup are present — including a posthumous Phife Dawg, recorded before his passing earlier this year — as well as Jarobi White, a fluctuating presence throughout their career. This untampered lineup of the past charges head on into the present, with collaborations come from the likes of modern innovators such as Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar and Anderson .Paak, along with hip-hop royalty in the form of the elusive André 3000 and Talib Kweli, as well as left-field contributions from Jack White and Elton John. This is an album littered with impressive guests, tapping effortlessly into the standout quality that makes ATCQ so timeless.

 

Gone are the days when groups like ATCQ, Jurassic 5 and De La Soul set the agenda in hip-hop. Gone too, with a few notable exceptions, is the culture of free-flowing group rap. A Tribe Called Quest have retained their style, and on We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service, they exhibit a flow like no other in the way they trade and wrestle over rhymes. This isn’t a case of one MC taking his turn in simple structures; it’s a constant flipping and switching that feels almost ad-libbed.

 

Even their guests fit into this equation. Carefully selected rappers — all notable for their jazz infused, free-flowing styles — slide unceremoniously into ATCQ’s environment. Take the André 3000 featuring “Kids…”; here is a rapper who could easily go for the full four minutes without so much as a pause for breath, but he doesn’t. André trades snappy, satisfying snippets with Phyfe and Jarobi in a way that rather than being fractured, it feels as if he’s been there all along. This happens again and again, while Jack White crops up on the likes of “Ego” and “Lost Somebody,” grabbing hold of classic, wonderfully simple beats and occasionally ripping them apart, limb by limb.

In this way, as modern-day heavyweights slip into ATCQ’s music, We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service is able to slip into the modern day with similar ease. Backed by lyrical content that has never been more potent and relevant, this album is proof that A Tribe Called Quest never really left.

Song You Need To Hear: "We The People...."