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

a-tribe-called-quest-we-got-it-from-here-thank-you-4-your-service-cover-art-back-n-the-day-buffetA Tribe Called Quest released their sixth studio album “We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service” on November 11, 2016.  The album was their first in 18 years and has quest appearances from Consequence, Busta Rhymes, Andre 3000, Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West and others.  The album was produced by A Tribe Called Quest, Q-Tip, and Blair Wells and released on Epic Records.

After the “shock” after the 2016 presidential election and all the protests that were going on in cities like Los Angeles, Oakland, Chicago and New York, this album was a breath of fresh air.  The day after the album dropped, they appeared as the musical guest to host Dave Chappelle on Saturday Night Live.  It seemed as if they were everywhere!

I could not remember what the last Hip Hop album I had bought (physically instead of digitally) but I had to have the artwork, so digitally was not an option.  I was eager to see if the magic was still there but moreover, I wanted to listen to Phife Diggy just one more time!  I think the majority of us Tribe fans were thinking the same way.  After listening to it for a month, I can say that Tribe has not missed a beat!

The first track I heard off this album was “We The People…” and with the political climate we are in, it was the perfect track to make as their first single.  Using a drum sample from Black Sabbath’sBehind the Wall of Sleep“, they get political on you and the hook will have you singing it over and over again.  Q-Tip takes the first verse and Phife takes the second.  Knowing how much Phife loved major league sports, you know he had to drop a sports reference.

[Hook: Q-Tip]
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 folks, you must go

[Bridge: Phife Dawg & Q-Tip]
The fog and the smog of news media that logs
False narratives of Gods that came up against the odds
We’re not just nigga rappers with the bars
It’s kismet that we’re cosmic with the stars

[Verse 2: Phife Dawg]
You bastards overlooking street art
Better yet, street smarts but you keep us off the charts
So motherfuck your numbers and your statisticians
Fuck y’all know about true competition?
That’s like a AL pitcher on deck talking about he hittin’
The only one who’s hitting are the ones that’s currently spittin’
We got your missy smitten rubbing on her little kitten
Dreaming of a world that’s equal for women with no division
Boy, I tell you that’s vision
Like Tony Romo when he hitting Witten
The Tribe be the best in they division
Shaheed Muhammad cut it with precision
Who can come back years later, still hit the shot?
Still them tryna move we off the fucking block
Babylon, bloodclot
Two pon yuh headtop

We all know that “Bonita Applebum” and “Electric Relaxation” were two of their greatest hits, so you know they had to do a fly love song on this LP!  “Enough!!” is that track dedicated to the ladies but unfortunately Phife was missing on this track but Jarobi makes up for it with his seductive voice and verse.  You can also hear “Bonita Applebum” being cut in and out of the song giving it that old school feel.

Yo, I’m savant with the game
Gon’ tell Robi yo’ name
Provide words that’s heard, setting your body aflame
Ooh, you off the chain, I’m handling your terrain
Your valley h-has me standing down to the follicle
‘Bout half of this bottle full of reasons for us to ball
Palming violations and travel vacation, ma
Lace your fancy bra, gon’ take them vestments off
Skin and my lips involved, I’m licking a place that’s soft

The first track off this album is “The Space Program” where Q-Tip and Phife tell us that they “gotta get it together for brothers” and they “gotta get it together for sisters“. You can tell the seriousness of this track sets the mood for the entire album as soon as Q-Tip spits,

Word to Phifer
Gonna bring it to the overlord, drinkin’ Cisco
Chilling with the gold microphone cords
And we grip our balls every time we stuntin’ on tour
‘Cause we never bore, responding to the ready crowd’s roar
And promoters try to hit us with the art of war
We about our business, we not quitters
Not bullshitters, we deliver—we go-get it
Don’t be bitter ’cause we not just niggas

Jarobi also gets into the act and does his part in on this incredible intro track!

Jarobi, my fiber wove into different cloth
Ain’t nothing forbidden, this nigga get his written off
Hardest spit in the city y’all niggas spitting kitten soft
Confused and amazed, shook up with your brain missing lost
They planning for our future
None of our people involved
Pouring Henny and Smirnoff to get it cracking off
Cracking off a Smirnoff to quickly turn to Molotov
Molotov the spaceship doors before that bitch is taking off
It always seems the poorest persons
Are people forsaken, dawg
No Washingtons, Jeffersons, Jacksons
On the captain’s log
They’d rather lead us to the grayest water poison deadly smog
Mass un-blackening, it’s happening, you feel it y’all?

We all know that after 18 years away from the game, the atmosphere in Hip Hop has changed dramatically.  So on “Dis Generation” they use a dope sample from Invisible’sRuido De Magia” accompanied by a funky guitar riff to give props to the new generation of Hip Hop stars!  One of the dopest tracks off this brilliant album.

Leave a dent when drop with the flyness, fluent giant
Dude’s nice, he tight, screwed in with some pliers
Cool with some buyers
Yeah, nigga, cool with some growers
(Never no tattletales, only I don’t knowers)
We a show me generation, show us what you gon’ show us
So listen, mami, see we could collude with a boing
Mouthpiece like Goines, with a jubilant noise
Dudes rude and as useless as coins, shoot ’em boys
Versed in, rehearsed in the soothing of loins
Talk to Joey, Earl, Kendrick, and Cole, gatekeepers of flow
They are extensions of instinctual soul
It’s the highest in commodity grade
And you could get it today

When I got to track #9 on this disc, I had to stop and listen closely then rewind that track immediately.  “Mobius” is a funky track featuring Consequence and Busta that will make you want more since neither Q-Tip or Phife drop verses on probably the best sonically dope track!  Consequence kills it whith his verse,

I break bread, ribs, hundred dollar bills
Dream about Bugattis and other four-wheels
They say Illuminati and other ordeals
Is how my lawyer got me to avoid a raw deal
And now it’s more real than it is for any other star
And that’s enough to have you tearing up the mini-bar
I should probably get awards where the Emmys are
For how I deal with the path like Remy Ma
I get in the car like a sniper’s on the roof now
But don’t confuse how you see me have to move now
I got bars like the cypher’s in the booth now
Ooh, child, things are gonna get easier
Long as they get my page right on Wikipedia
Long as they say my name right in the media
If you don’t, that’s a sin like Cincinnati
‘Cause ever since I had the polo suit at the Grammys
I been spittin’ at the camera like Trick Daddy
So swaggy, he could’ve broke up with IG
I ain’t surprised that they broke up on IG
I got the game on IV, might as well have a live feed
Keep a fresh cut from IB
So I always match the picture in my ID
They packin’ Dub C had ran with Mack 10
I was still a baby Similac then
And what the crack era did to black men
It had to be a era if you had a Cadillac then

Then Busta comes in after the beat changes and the Dungeon Dragon rips the track to shreds with that bonkers-bananas flow!  By the end of his verse, his dreadlocks grew back!

How I rock mine, I throw it up
Makin’ sure that you niggas all are on the same page
Powerful force, you better look both ways
Fuck that, I’m chokin’ niggas, it’s goin’ down
I’m from a different cloth, we the oracles of the sounds
Skip town, hit ’em with impeccable pound
Lost, found, the way I flood it, niggas gon’ drown
Rip shit—ayo, wait, wait, wait, wait—
I gotta do it again, I gotta do it again

You already know the script, roundhouse kick
She lookin’ at me, lickin’ her lip
Put my arm around her like a bowl of chip with a dip
With yo’ bitch, what the fuck, niggas erupt
I got the half moon clip, that’s banana
A good planner, a new anger like a larger Bruce Banner
Out the house, nigga, if you open your mouth
Man, nigga, if you open your mouth
Fuck the press, I’m leavin’ every room in a mess
Like herds of bulls with they aprons on and bakin’ soda
Keep it movin’, keep the convo short
And bring a case of Henney
House of pain, I control many
House of lies, you niggas go run, hide
Peep the way this vibe conflict with they real lives
(Nigga) Fanatic shit, we go bizarre
Bad news for niggas as I go emphatical, radical
National animal rulin’ like a czar
Every time I black for the record, the shit splatter
The whole batter, no bullshit, the boom bapper
I pull the gat up, whip the shit, cook the batter
When I pull up on niggas, even your momma gon’ scatter

The song immediately after that is “Black Spasmodic” where Phife and Tip flow over a reggae type beat and Consequence on the hook.  It’s one of those songs that sounds perfect for Phife since it has that “Caribbean” feel to it.  Tip then spits some inspirational lyrics about his “little” brother Phife Dawg and tells him to check on his mother up in heaven.  It makes you breath in deep and exhale.

My nigga spirit be talkin’ to me, let me explain
Not through evil mediums, tarot cards, and Ouija games
But through mixing chords and boards
And even drum machines—he be saying:
“Nigga fuck awards, keep reppin’ Queens”
And don’t be taking slack from these non-rapping niggas, man
That intellectual shit you spit, you better change your plan
Especially when you see ’em at the lobby of a label
And they don’t seem able to outstretch they hands
And admit they fans
You better flame ’em in the J’s that they standing in
Ostracize they memory for not remembering
The articles reduce their body parts to particles
And dust the Dead Sea with their cremated molecules
I’m leaving, but nigga you still got the work to do
I expect the best from you, I’m watching from my heaven view
Don’t disappoint me, make sure that they anoint me
As the blue ribbon pedigree, the best of show, five-foot-three
Speak of the legacy for short people around the world
Napoleonic, bionic people who cause the world to twirl
Rip every stage with grace, look right dead in they face
Live the Tribe principle of havin’ impeccable taste
Enjoy that breath like that one was your last one left
If you don’t believe me, Tip, there’s truly life after death
So refer to the Biggie covers and shoutout my Trini brothers
And please check in on my mother…
Malik Izaak, call me shorty”

There are more than one track dedicated to Phife Dawg’s memory and the one that hits home more than any other track is the aptly named “Lost Somebody“.  Q-Tip talks about how they had a falling out and it was documented on film and Jarobi reflects on how he cooked healthy food for Phife and how he was Phife’s best man at his wedding. It’s and extremely emotional song and the Five Footer would’ve been proud of it!

[Intro: Q-Tip]
Yeah, Phife—for your life

[Verse 1: Q-Tip]
Now, in the time when niggas wasn’t supposed to be born
Best of us are left for dead in cities that looks war-torn
Vietnam going wrong, heroin going strong
Neighbors would whoop that bad ass
Just for running through their lawn
Walt met Cheryl, Cheryl met Walt
Trinidadian love sprouting through the asphalt
Love was consummated and the angels registrated
Two were to be born but only one of ’em made it
Inside a cloud of sorrow, a silver lining and joy
It’s a bouncing baby boy, a king’s name they would employ
And before he even squeaks, it’s decided it’s Malik
Now give him hope, give him care
Raise him while his grandma there
Watch out momma, if you stare
Light brown eyes’ll keep you there
Let’s progress the story just a little bit
Malik, I would treat you like little brother that would give you fits
Sometimes overbearingthough I thought it was for your benefit
Despite all the spats and shits cinematically documented
The one thing I appreciate, you and I, we never pretended
Rhymes we would write it out, hard times fight it out
Gave grace face to face, made it right
And now you riding out, out, out, out, damn

[Chorus: Cat]
Have you ever loved somebody?
(Phife dawg, man)
Way before you got to dream?
(Bow wow, woof woof)
No more crying, he’s in sunshine

[Verse 2: Jarobi]
Never thought that I would be ever writing this song
Hold friends tight, never know when those people are gone
So, so beautiful, opined indisputable
Heart of a largest lion trapped inside the little dude
Took me quick to granny house, now we eat the curry food
Talking hopes, dreams, plans, leak ice, never scared
Brand new pair of Nike Airs, avenue of sairs
Mailbox mayors, all our rhymes was written there
A nigga wanna battle, you know Phifey didn’t care
Jarobi with the beat, into new ass we tear
I’mma flash forward well, took a trip to ATL
Cooking in the kitchen making sure my nigga eating well
Wedding in Tobago, you know exactly where I’m at
Standing on the side of black Malik Izaak

Have you ever loved somebody?
Way before you got to dream?
No more crying, he’s in sunshine
He’s alright now, see his wings
Have you ever loved somebody?
Way before you got to dream?
No more crying, he’s in sunshine
He’s alright now, see his wings
Have you ever loved somebody?
Way before you got to dream?
No more crying, he’s in sunshine
He’s alright now, see his wings
Have you ever loved somebody?
Way before you got to dream?
No more crying, he’s in sunshine
He’s alright now, see his wings
Have you ever loved somebody?
Way before you got to dream?
No more cry

We also get “Kids…” with Andre 3000, “The Killing Fields” with Talib Kweli and Kanye West on the hook, and “Conrad Tokyo” where Kendrick Lamar drops one of his dopest verses ever!  The album is a banger and is easily a 4 mic album.  De La Soul dropped their long anticipated album months previous to this release and Pete Rock & CL Smooth are working on their third album, so it looks like “old school” artists are making a comeback.  Yes I know, they’ve “been here for years”, but it was great to hear one of the greatest groups in Hip Hop history drop a classic in the midst of the genre changing significantly and to many the way it’s “fallen off”.  Thank You ATCQ! Phife Dawg Lives!!!

-Al E.

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