Of the many “comebacks” this year, A Tribe Called Quest’s is perhaps at the top of them the list. After an 18-year hiatus due to different member conflicts, the legendary hip-hop trio returned with one of its best efforts, titled We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service. 2016 has been a year marked by many heartbreaking losses in the music community, and ATCQ were no exception. Founding member and principal MC Phife Dawg passed away earlier this year, but thankfully he had recorded several verses for the album beforehand.
After almost two decades apart, you would think that the pioneering group would have some rust to shake off. But on We got it from Here…, they’ve recaptured that same old energy, and sound just as fresh as their mid-90’s peak. It has the vibe of a classic ATCQ record, while still sounding modern; there is not a single hint of being “past their prime.” It’s a perfect combination of catchy hooks, irresistible grooves and fiery sociopolitical commentary.
Here, they take on diverse subject matter with passionate dissatisfaction and relevance, tackling everything from homophobia to disenfranchisement to Donald Trump. There are also numerous guest appearances, each one as integral and stellar as the last, including verses from André 3000, Kendrick Lamar and Busta Rhymes, and samples from Elton John and Willy Wonka. Opener “The Space Program” perfectly sets the tone for the album, with socially conscious and riled up lyrics riding a tight funk groove. On standout track “We the People…” the late Phife and Q-Tip share a powerful verse, rapping in unison. Later, Tip sings of remembrance for his deceased brother on “Lost Somebody.”
Expertly weaving together elements of hip-hop, jazz, funk, trap, rock and R&B, A Tribe Called Quest have piled onto their legacy. Their sixth and presumably final album, We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service contains beautiful moments of reflection, commentary, protest, mourning, and shit-talking. For this influential group, the record serves as equal parts comeback, tribute and farewell.