Photo of A Tribe Called Quest by Jared Siskin at MoMA PS1 in Queens, New York.
If this year has been anything it has been an up-and-down roller coaster wave of emotions, farewells and impressionable moments. From numerous legends passing away to the rise of a reality TV star becoming our president of the United States — in the midst of it all that we are being blessed with our very own sonic safe space. Better known as We Got It From Here … Thank You 4 Your Service — this album arrives as a bittersweet, yet watershed moment for hip-hop fans as A Tribe Called Quest releases its first project together since 1998’s The Love Movement. In that time, we’ve seen them destroy Madison Square Garden, argue and fight like brothers on the big screen and come together to find a semblance of peace and tranquility.
Talented beyond belief, Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi gave hip-hop fans lyrics to debate over, share with others and put up against the other greats still in the game. Those kings from Queens, New York might be dropping their sixth and final full-length project today (11/11) but that doesn’t stop us from championing their legacy. Now, these grown ass men are putting forth their energy to show the rest of the hip-hop game that they are not some retro-relics in the back pining for a foregone era. In fact, on We Got It From Here … Thank You 4 Your Service (pre-order the vinyl here) they sound like they’re performing from the 23rd century with their beat selections and displays of lyricism. It is with those testaments laced over eclectic soundscapes through 16 tracks that made seeing them together for the last time at A Tribe Called Quest at MoMA PS1 on Wednesday so heartfelt.
Gathering amongst that class of brilliant lyricists such as Brand Nubian, Smif-N-Wessun, Busta Rhymes and Consequence as this haphazard-yet-focused, head-nodding groove boomed within this dome set up in PS1’s courtyard was about as close to heaven on earth that we could get. With Phife’s mother in attendance, seeing his friends and those who were sincerely close to Malik pay their respects as his Trini gladiator voice reigned supreme in the background was truly amazing and heartbreaking. The LP itself was recorded before Phife passed away due to complications from diabetes, making the event a farewell as much as an album listening session. “He set the tone,” Q-Tip told those gathering to hear the album about Phife’s contributions. It was that level of friendly competition and penmanship that influenced the project’s star-studded efforts from features such as Andre 3000, Anderson .Paak, Kendrick Lamar, Elton John and Jack White.
Having been in the presence of these giants, I was truly thankful for the opportunity to share that gratitude with Jarobi, Busta and Q-Tip. These men helped to shape my viewpoint of the world and inspire the legacy that I want to leave to future generations in this industry we call entertainment and the journalism field. From “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo” to Midnight Marauders to this project that’s out today — Tribe, De La Soul, Native Tongues assembled dopeness that will forever be timeless in my humble opinion. More than just five-mic hype, A Tribe Called Quest has come to embody the socially aware, charismatic crew that can stand with the G’s, the gents and still get their point across to the masses. From me to Tribe, I thank you guys for keeping my mind, heart and soul focused on fighting for freedom through creative expression, on championing the oppressed for truth and not for profit and for hipping me to Rule #4080—a guide that has kept me from drowning numerous times.
With We Got It From Here … Thank You 4 Your Service out in this new world order, Tribe continues to speak on the racial injustices and divides that have begun to overtake communities here and abroad. To commemorate the final album from the Native Tongue group, we’ve received short letters of thanks from some of music’s best and brightest, celebrating A Tribe Called Quest’s accomplishments, influences and more.
Click through the following pages to see who said what + enjoy this piece while listening to the album!