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A Tribe Called Quest honors Phife Dawg through amazing finale

‘We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service’ by A Tribe Called Quest
9 out of 10

By Ethan Winkler ’17
THE ROUNDUP

In late October 2016, A Tribe Called Quest’s founding member Q-Tip wrote a letter to fans announcing the release of a new album.

Come Nov. 11, “We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service” was released.

Being the first album in 18 years, it caught fans by surprise, but it did not disappoint.

This album is a fantastic mix of sounds, vibes and rap that brings us back to the 80s and 90s while also accepting some modern themes in rap music.

One of my favorite songs, “The Space Program,” is great example of the vintage sound the ATCQ became known for.

It provides a super groovy keyboard lead alongside a studio drum beat that carries you through the entire song.

It is also produced very well, layering many sounds and voices on top of the beat. This is how they have modernized a little bit.

Instead of just using real instruments like they did in the past, they’ve learned to include audio clips and computer-made music into this album, making it that much more diverse and impressive.

This is also seen in “Solid Wall of Sound,” where they remix Elton John’s “Bennie & The Jets” to create a completely unique hip-hop sound.

Another staple of ATCQ’s music is their beautiful social commentary.

The most prominent example in this album is also one of the most popular, called “We The People….”.

In this song, they touch on very important topics to them, ones that continues throughout the album: their disdain for Donald Trump and the oppression of people of color.

Q-Tip opens the song talking about how black people are killed by police at an absurd rate.

Moving onto the chorus, Q-Tip mocks Trump and how he treats people of color, saying “All you Black folks, you must go, all you Mexicans, you must go, and all you poor folks, you must go.”

These are powerful words from a group that is committed to spreading their view on the state of our society.

One thing that caught fans by surprise is how they released an album without key member Phife Dawg, who died earlier that year.

Well, they technically didn’t.

The group had been working on the album for quite some time, and he had already recorded his verses.

He gave them “the blueprint” so they could finish the album without him.

There are a few songs that don’t include him, namely “Lost Somebody” and “The Donald,” which are dedicated to him and his effect on the genre and his fellow group members.

It’s a beautiful goodbye and celebration of the legend that is Phife Dawg.

I am also thoroughly impressed with the amount and quality of features on this album.

Some feel that too many or even any features can spoil an album and keep it from reaching its full potential, but I couldn’t disagree more.

When you bring other artists in to record and produce music with you, you end up with a musically diverse piece of art.

They bring things to the table that the original musician might not have thought of or might have not been able to do at all.

Alongside the founding crew members of Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Jarobi White and Ali Shaheed Muhammad are the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Andre 3000, Busta Rhymes (a consistent ATCQ since the 90s), and Anderson .Paak (a personal favorite of mine).

.Paak provides his beautiful and diverse vocals for the song “Movin Backwards,” all about doing something with your life and pushing forward through the tough times in life to reach your dreams.

Busta Rhymes has a funky verse with his easily identifiable heavy and deep voice in the songs “Dis Generation” and “Modius.”

These additions make this album just that much better.

My least favorite songs on this album is “The Killing Season,” where I feel they don’t do enough with production wise, and “Black Spasmodic,” which tries to use some kind of tropical beat that doesn’t impress.

But other than those couple songs, this entire album is an outstanding collection of hip-hop songs that are a must hear for any fan of the genre.

Eighteen years later, when we thought they were done, the Tribe came back to provide us one last taste of their exceptional music.