You can’t talk about the evolution of hip-hop without talking about A Tribe Called Quest.
Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad set the archetype for hip-hop back in the late ‘80s, and made major waves out the gate with tracks like “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo” and “Can I Kick It?” From there, the list of hits goes on and on from albums like People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm to The Low End Theory to Midnight Marauders including classics like “Bonita Applebum.”
In 2014, director Michael Rapaport chronicled the rise and fall of the band in a documentary entitled Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest. The film followed the trio from the early days of growing up in Queens to the gold records just a decade later, and ultimately the split in 1998 after the release of The Love Movement that left many fans questioning. The film seeks to answer many of those questions, with archival footage and new interviews with Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed, original member Jarobi White, and Phife Dawg, before his untimely passing earlier this year from complications with diabetes.
While 2016 marks a year of unquestionable tragedy for the group, it also marked their return to the charts for the first time in almost two decades. We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service was recorded before Phife passed, following their appearance on The Tonight Show on the same evening as the terrorist attacks in Paris. With a renewed sense of focus and purpose, Tribe overcame past differences to record again, and the album was released on November 11 to great acclaim. Entertainment Weekly said the album “vividly demonstrates the group’s unassailable greatness and continued relevance,” while Rolling Stone said Tribe “maintain the attitude of the Bohemian everydude funkonauts that inspired Kanye West, Andre 3000, and Kendrick Lamar (who all appear here).” It topped the Billboard 200, and features guest appearances from several notable artists including Jack White, Elton John, Anderson Paak, Talib Kweli, and Busta Rhymes, in addition to West, Lamar, and Andre 3000.
To celebrate the album, A Tribe Called Quest performed a secret show at The Spare Room at The Hollywood Roosevelt over the weekend, hosted by Jarobi White. Guest appearances included Dave Chapelle and Busta Rhymes, captured in full glory in this Instagram video above courtesy of @myleshendrik.
You can stream We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service here.
- Story by Amy Jacobowitz