Album Review: A Tribe Called Quest
by Sarah Muhammad
For a long time now, it has seemed like the thread that holds the essence of hip hop culture together has been wearing thin. Speaking to the life and times of the listeners is the quintessential part of a criteria that has become replaced almost completely with nonsensical lyrics shielded within undeniably catchy beats. A Tribe Called Quest has been the complete embodiment of true hip hop culture for me for as long as I can remember and serve as the baseline for where I believe most other influences arise. In light of the death of Phife Dawg earlier this year, I felt like a large part of music had died as well. The last release we heard from the ensemble was almost 20 years ago, and it has been almost 20 years of holding on to what seemed to be the end of an era. But earlier this month, Q-Tip, Jarobi and All Shaheed Muhammad, as well as a few friends, were able to ban together to create the release to shake the hip hop world back to its core. Now in their mid 40’s, Tribe has produced a project entitled “We got it from Here...Thank You 4 Your service”, a solid ensemble of tracks hinging on the mishaps of today’s society, political discontent and an attempt to reshift the culture to something meaningful. The first track from the project that I heard being “Conrad Tokyo” jumps out the gate with classic Tribe feel of splitting very thick bars and is even graced with a feature from Kendrick Lamar with an overall danceable flare. It creates the perfect warm up to an album that is not “Instinctive Travels” but also does not reek of 2016. The production on the album houses a lot of the afrofuturistic quality that we have been craving in the underground, but does not 100% stray away from the characteristic jazzy beats of the Tribe sound of the early 90’s, particularly “Solid Walls of Sound” and “Kids”, which features a very solid verse from Andre 3000. The lyrical content of the album is nothing short of phenomenal, but as to be expected given the group’s track record. The theme of political strife is evident throughout the project and creates a nice backbone for direction following the presidential election, as well as backlash as a result of straying from traditional politics. All in all, Tribe has developed a well informed and thought provoking piece of work that has brought the life back into the culture and proved that after so much time, they can in fact still “kick it”.
Overall Rating: 6.8/10
Best Track: “Conrad Tokyo”
Best Production: “Solid Wall of Sound”