When A Tribe called Quest’s album We got it from Here… Thank you 4 your Service dropped in late 2016, I wasn’t interested. I figured it was a product of some old 90’s rappers trying to make some money. I was extremely wrong. I first saw A Tribe Called Quest perform on Saturday Night Live right after their album came out. Group member Q-Tip commands the crowd “Stand up with one fist in the air. We are all one. We are the people.” The next three minutes of their performance can only be described as authentic. They chose to perform “We the People”, arguably the best song from their album. The song hits with the deep heavy beats and in your face lyrics that 90’s rap is known for. But “We the People” has been spiced up with lyrics that demand your attention:
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
If “We the People” was the thesis statement We got it from Here… Thank you 4 your Service is a roaming essay of the Tribe’s reaction to the world of 2016. Lots of artists, especially in hip hop, attempted to convey the feeling and displeasure with events of 2016. No group produced a better reaction to the world around them than Tribe Called Quest.
We got it from Here… Thank you 4 your Service is a product of Tribe’s observations on the world. It is an album of loss, with tributes to group member Phife Dawg, who died after a long fight with diabetes shortly after the album was finished. This is also a politically charged album and they make it clear in the beginning with album opener “Space Program”:
It’s time to go left and not right / Gotta get it together forever / Gotta get it together for brothers / Gotta get it together for sisters / For mothers and fathers and dead n****s / For non-conformists, one hitter quitters / For Tyson types and Che figures / Let’s get it together, come on let’s make it / Gotta make it to make it, to make it, to make it, to make it / To make something happen, to make something happen / To make something happen, let’s make something happen
Through their lyrics Tribe is trying to get people to stand up and take action, and be active in changing the world for the better. “Solid Wall of Sound” is one of their songs where they try to call the audience to action. But more than a message the song shows that Tribe Called Quest knows how to blend their lyrical 90’s rap with other songs like Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets”. All their songs are musically conflicting and complicated. Each member of the group has a distinct sound, and they frequently hand the mic off to each other to keep the songs interesting.
There is a reason Metacritic gave We got it from Here… Thank you 4 your Service a 91/100, it is simply good. It is everything a rap album should be. A talented group had a message to tell, they blended their politically charged lyrics with modern sounds to create an album that anyone can pick up and get something out of. Many years from now people will still be dissecting Tribe’s deep lyrics. Or simply vibing out to their smooth flow and deep beats.
By: Lucas Peterson