Rumours regarding a new A Tribe Called Quest album have circulated for 18 years, following their last release, The Love Movement (1998), and it’s finally here. The hip-hop group have been pioneers of alternative hip-hop since their debut, People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm (1990), and have secured their legacy with further classic hip-hop albums, such as The Low End Theory (1991) and Midnight Marauders (1993).
Their new release, We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service, does not tarnish their impressive discography, but rather acts as a triumph final album for the group. The album does not rely on the nostalgia of their previous work, instead it acts as a fitting close, by fusing the classic features of trademark Tribe, with more contemporary sounds that are prevalent in rap music today.
A notable example is their integration of jazz, which is fitting coming a year after Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly (2015) (one the most critically acclaimed rap albums of the decade so far), which predominantly consists of ‘jazz rap’. Lamar actually features on the album, delivering a strong verse on the track ‘Conrad Tokyo’, a song that addresses the current political situation of the United States.
Perhaps this theme is most explicit on the track ‘We the People…,’. Q-Tip delivers the hook: “All you Black folks, you must go/All you Mexicans, you must go/And all you poor folks, you must go/Muslims and gays, boy we hate your ways/So all you bad folk, you must go.” Clearly, A Tribe Called Quest are following in the footsteps of countless American artists before them in the last couple of years, speaking out on the issue of racism in their nation. This song in particular, seems to be more focused on one of the most bizarre presidential campaigns of recent memory, that of President-elect, Donald Trump, who has often been accused of amplifying the issues raised by this song.
Furthermore, We got it from Here offers a variety of different guest features; enhancing the album for the most part. As previously mentioned, Kendrick Lamar’s feature is a success, as is that of Outkast veteran, Andre 300 on the track ‘Kids…’. Anderson Paak also adds to the relevance of this album after his success with Malibu earlier this year, just as he offered a fresh sound last year on Dr Dre’s Compton. Other notable collaborators include Busta Rhymes and Elton John on ‘Solid Wall of Sound’, and Kanye West on ‘The Killing Season’.
A Tribe Called Quest’s latest album is a massive success. Recorded shortly before the passing of member Phife Dawg at 45, We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service showcases the individual talents of each group member, as much as it demonstrates their strength as a trio. Consequently, We got it from Here will easily contend as the best rap album of 2016.