A Tribe Called Quest: We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service

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Happy Veterans Day Friday Earthlings,

After a long Election Day work week, A Tribe Called Quest unleashes it’s final album “We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service“.  The Hip Hop pioneers’ grande finale is their first official album in 18 years. Released on Veterans Day, it carries a fitting title for multiple reasons. The album was created within the same year founding member Malik “Phife” Taylor passed away from a series of well documented Type 2 Diabetes battles.  Recorded prior to The Five Foot Assassin‘s final days on Earth, We Got It From Here.. delivers on it’s formal intention without chagrin. Producer/Leader Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi righteously enlist their tribesmen Busta Rhymes & Consequence to give it the authentic/timeless ATCQ sound we’ve all embraced since their 1990 debut album.

a-tribe-called-quest1-827x620Remarkably, Q-Tip & Tribe produced an album that is inclusive to the current Hip-Hop vibe/sound without watering down their well seasoned sonic formula.  The album features guest appearances by Andre 3000, Elton John, Talib Kweli, Jack White, Kanye WestKendrick Lamar and Anderson .Paak. This eclectic star-studded lineup steers the record away from feeling “Retro”. It feels more “True School” rather than “New School”. Basically, this is just what both fans and ATCQ aimed for:  A 2016 Tribe Album.  Be sure to snatch up the new album by clicking the artwork above.  You can also stream the album and peep the lyric video single below. Check out their television performance on Saturday Night Live (Nov 12th) hosted by mega-star comedian Dave Chappelle. Naturally, our resident Musician/DJ (and of course Founder) Damon R. Howard reviews each song on the playlist below in quintessential #switchflipcertified style!

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Spliff Star, Jarobi White, Phife Dawg, Dinco D, Q-Tip, Busta Rhymes

#atcq #atcqforever #atcq2016 #tribe #atribecalledquest #switchflipmedia

WE THE PEOPLEOfficial Video

SIDE I

01. The Space Program: Vintage tribe album opener.  Jarobi, Phife & Q-Tip get the album’s vibe started with a “Low End Theory -style banger ala Buggin Out”.

02. We The People: Gritty yet Razor Sharp synth heavy “Boom Bap”.  Political & Media reflective lyrics through vocal filters.

03. Whateva Will Be:  Phife Dawg leads this verse-tossing funk groove.  Consequence shows it up strong giving it that mid 90’s tribe chokehold.

04. Solid Wall of Sound:  Holy smack, Q-Tip’s production on this one snatches and chops Elton John samples and guest vocals. The actual track is a creative yet trippy interpolation of Benny & The Jets.  Busta and Phife bring that soundboy dancehall flavor.  Lyrical measures are double time over a trippy, crawl-tempo soundscape.

05. Dis Generation: Yeah buddy, they pull off that airy “The Ummah” sound (production crew of their mid to late 90’s albums comprising of Jay Dilla, Q-Tip & Ali Shaheed).  The Chorus flips Musical Youth’s intro to “Pass The Duchie“.  The ATCQ crew bounce pass rhyme bars with vintage Run DMC/Beastie Boys finesse over a “Sunny-Fall-Day-Sunroof -Back Banger” (yes, that’s a Damon-ism).

06. Kids: Andre 3000 (Outkast) shows up like royalty paying respect to his musical “Senseis” on this one.  3 Stacks and Tip trade bars showcasing the perspective of the adults raising their Millennials and the reality of modern day parenting in our society. “Kids, don’t you know all this shit is fantasy?”

07. Melatonin: This one sounds like a message driven Q-Tip solo album release during his Motown Years (2000’s).  It has some semblance of old tribe, but is definitely a new school approach with more filtered guitars and female vocal croons. 

08. Enough! Oh hellz yeah digging how they sample their own “Bonita Applebaum” through the open wall of production sound.  It is basically the smooth chill out jam on the album that you play for your girl to set the mood.  Jarobi goes hard on his verse with a Charlie Tuna (Jurassic 5) type flow.

VH1 Presents The 4th Annual VH1 Hip Hop Honors - Arrivals

SIDE II

01. Mobius: Side 2 starts off with this straight up NYC Hip Hop style.  Sparse piano over super bombastic yet basic drums. Q-Tip’s cousin Consequence sets the pace with a strong opening set of bars, showcasing why he was the worthy 3rd mc on the last 3 tribe albums (keeping them rap style relative during Jarobi’s hiatus). His command of the mic compliments Busta Rhymes’ anchorman position on this 2 minute banger. Tip & Phife’s absence on the track is insignificant, as the crew has it covered here.

02. Black Spasmodic:  It’s Kamaal the Abstract (Q-Tip) and Malik the 5ft Assassin’s turn to shineBoth the production and the wordplay are drenched in reggae/dancehall swagger. Although the track is slick and upbeat ala “Love Movement” style, Phife’s Trinidad Patois flow and storytelling proves his legendary lyrical prowess. His delivery on this one seems to keep in tune with his standout status from the Low End Theory/Midnight Marauders era. Consequence holds the chorus down with some street grit.

03. The Killing Season:  Kanye on the hook, Talib Kweli blesses a verse, Consequence & Jarobi anchor in the Tribe vibe.  Cello and Violins.  Not much else to say!

04. Lost Somebody:  This track is the “Elephant in the Room” on the album.  The introspective story about Phife’s illness and addiction, but mainly of how his life affected the Tribesman in most positive high almighty. Tip spits his heartfelt verse about his brother, and Jarobi holds his own with his tales of how he took care of Phife when ill throughout their career.  Jack White throws some screeching guitar blues on the outro.

05. Movin Backwards:  The production is 60’s funk band fresh.  LA’s latest prodigy Anderson .Paak kills the introspective hook with his breezy yet raspy gutter butter soul.  Q-Tip goes in lyrically with a message to the people about forward progression.

06. Conrad Tokyo:  Woah we needed this one on many levels.  First, it gives the world a taste of Phife’s skill set backed up against the bars of the most lyrical contemporary MC out right now.  Kendrick Lamar and Malik shred this production apart with top notch lyrics.  Conrad Tokyo is actually a super high end Hilton Hotel overlooking the Shiodome on Tokyo Bay, so what is interesting is the party vibe outro of the full Tribe crew vibing til the break of dawn.  Very reminiscent of the interludes on their debut album People’s Instinctive Travels…

07. Ego: Q-Tip proves why he happens to transform into the lead role of ATCQ with this classic. He pulls out his The Abstract/MF Doom-type dual threat move by going solo on this one. Both the production and the content of his lyrics ties in with the theme depicting the human mental condition. Everyone can relate to letting their Ego get the best of them sometimes.

The way he acknowledges it over the production’s unorthodox measure count is classic Tribe, but with a twist of live and sampled instrumentation.  The “break” section’s jazzy horns gives the feel good chills, while the intro and main section of song uses a sparse bassline, drums, and some Jack White guitar sonics for aura. The song’s ending lyric chronicles Tribe’s ego as a group.  This could’ve been a great “final track” to the album.

08. The Donald: This song feels like one of those “bonus joints” off of your favorite Long Player (LP).  Not only is it over 5 minutes long (the first and last songs on this album are the only ones reaching past 4.5 minutes), it provides that “posse cut” feel. However it is just Tip and Phife going hard like Midnight Marauders, with “Bussa Bus providing the dancehall patois hook that anchors the familiar theme throughout the album (Jamaican & Trinidadian blood runs deep in the Tribesmen).

Although the album has some political references, this track is entirely a cut showcasing and praising Malik “Phife” Taylor’s mic skills and contributions to Hip-Hop as a whole. Phife & Tip trade verses in prime form.  No doubt he’s the “Don Juice”.  Now it makes sense to end this final ATCQ album on this note.  The song closes with the 2 words of highest respect to Malik’s service:  Phife Dawg (mic drop).

-Damon R. Howard

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