I Can't Call It: We Got It From Here...Thanks For Your Service - A Tribe Called Quest

Posted On Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A minute ago me & Ev did an episode of the Writer's Bench where we were going through my CD collection naming every group/MC and asking if we wanted another album from them. Almost every one we said we did want another album from, there was an asterisk next to it. For example, I wanted a new Outkast album IF Dre is rhyming on it, him & Big Boi are both in the studio recording it and Organized Noize and Earthtone produce it. When we got to Tribe, I was good with another Tribe album IF they were all in the same studio together working on it (you can see people recording together means a lot to me), Tip left that weirdo Vivrant Thing ish back in '98 and came with some boom bap and there was some never heard before Dilla on tap. So when word got to ear that Tribe had a new album dropping my first reaction was who cares? First thing first, Phife just passed away and the fact that La Reid was the one who leaked that there was a new Tribe album sounded like a record exec trying to sell some records cause Kiss already told ya'll dead rappers get better promotion. Plus the last time I checked Tip and Phife were beefing so if there was a new record on tap, they were probably sending verses back and forth and if that's how it was going down, my attitude was I'm good.

But then I came across this New York Times article on Tribe and it was breaking down how Phife had been spending time at Tip's crib in Jersey not only working on music but repairing their friendship...word? The article also said how anybody who worked on the album had to come to Tip's studio to record...word? And on top of that Kendrick Lamar, and Andre 3000 were showing up on the album too...word? Welp, that was quick cause I went from not caring about a new Tribe album to it becoming the most anticipated album of the year for me. But before I jump all the way out the window I gotta know who's behind the boards cause remember I wanted some Dilla on tap and if I'm gonna keep it 100 I haven't heard a dope beat from Tip in damn near over 15 years (nah...I didn't like the Renaissance like that) so if there's a black cloud floating over this album for me it's how are the beats gonna sound? But even with that uncertainty lying around it's not stopping my ears from marauding for some new Tribe.

"We Got It..." sets off with "The Space Program" which is vintage Tribe and will have any Tribe fan grinning ear to ear cause this jawn BANGS! One of my many beefs with "Beats, Rhymes & Life" & "The Love Movement" was the way those albums started off but nobody in the world could beef with the way "We Got It..." gets the party started. "We The People..." has Tip using one of my fave Black Sabbath breaks & explaining what the world's gonna be like now that Trump's in office, "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." And this jawn also reminds me how much I missed Phife's sports references in his rhymes even tho I hate the folk he shouts out "boy, I tell you that's vision, like Tony Romo when he hitting Witten." "Whateva Will Be" bangs and "Solid Wall of Sound" featuring Elton John and "Dis Genration" has everybody bringing it and has Tip, Phife & Busta sounding like a modern day Smif n Wessun with their rhymes flowing together perfectly.

I won't hold you, it took me a minute to get into "Kids" featuring Andre 3000 but once I was there I was good money. And you already knows 3000 brings it, "I ain't even gon' lie, I was probably high, just forgot to call you back simple as that/I ain't no almanac so lick my dictionary, I might just call a cab cause I dig canary/yellow accents on a dark bitch I met her back when she kept all her carpet/I'm well aware all that shit is fantasy I double dare y'all to fuck your plan B/that's demeanor, momma's mannerisms, that mean, don't mean to get vulgar, but it's some/hoes in this bitch like a box of donuts it's cold out in this bitch, standing on the corner/condolences to niggas that got erased I pour out some liquor on a cop's grave." "Melatonin" sounds like something left over from Tip's "Kamal The Abstract" album but there's no need to worry that Side 1 is gonna end on a wack note cause there's absolutely no way to explain how dope "Enough!!!" is with Tip & Jarobi dropping jewels on balancing the rap game and relationships. Plus the scratches of the Rotary Connection break made famous by "Bonita Applebum" just help to make the song that much doper! And the most shocking part for me is just how dope Jarobi sounds, "I'm savant with the game, go on 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, has me standing down to the follicle/bout half of this bottle full/ of reasons for us to ball, palming violations and travel vacations, ma/place on your fancy bra, go take them vestments off, skin and my lips involved with licking a place that's on." And Tip doesn't slouch on this jawn one bit, "is it an issue if I make you nut, but there's no quality time 'cause I forever rhyme/this is not an excuse I just wanna get loose, that's some nigga jargon, girl you're making me harden/to the stone and granite statue, I'm prone to get at you It's hard to break your defense, I guess I have to leap fence/and scale wall and break fall on a tree right by your window, reward me for my efforts by rolling this endo."

Side 2 sets off lovely with "Mobius" and has Cons going in, "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." But how the hell aren't Tip & Phife on this banger? "Black Spasmodic" got a nice 'lil bounce to it and got Tip & Phife sounding dope together while Cons holds it down on the chorus. The way "The Killing Season" starts off is wack with the 1st verse belonging to Kweli but once the beat flips & Cons and Jarobi come on the scene to save the day it gets my head back to noddin' again. Now, remember back in the first paragraph when I was talking about Tip and his weirdo ish? Welp, guess what shows up for "Lost Somebody", "Movin' Backward" and "Conrad Tokyo?" Yup, that weirdo Tip ish. "Lost Somebody" has Tip & Jarobi talking about their love for their fallen brother, "let’s progress the story just a little bit, Malik I would treat you like little brother that would give you fist/sometimes overbearing though I thought it was for your benefit, despite all the spastic shit and cinematic we documented/the one thing I appreciate you and I we never pretended/rhymes we would write it out, hard times, fight it out/made race face to face, made it right and now you riding out." It's definitely dope to hear Tip & Jarobi's love for Phife but the beat and chorus are both straight up and down wick wick wack.

"Movin Backwards" featuring Anderson Paak gotta be another leftover from the Kamal the Abstract days and "Conrad Tokyo" featuring Kendrick Lamar has Phife & Kendrick trading bars about the political climate of the game and this jawn isn't wack, it just doesn't sound like a Tribe song. More like something that would be on a Robert Glasper "Black Radio" type album and last time I check this was a Tribe album right? Now things go back to normal real quick with the Tip solo banger "Ego" and the album ends with "The Donald" and has Phife leaving us with a final verse for the album. "Phife Dawg legend, you can call me Don Juice, I'm the shit right now what you need to see proof/ recently on the internet they chatting, taking polls debating who could win in battle rapping/let's make it happen, these cyber thugs already par, no subliminals with me, you know who the fuck you are/who wanna spar well here I are/unorthodox spitter orbing on the southpaw/no doubt, I'mma set it, dudes best be ready, off top on the spot no reading from your wackberry/leave the iPhones home skill sets must be shown/I'mma show you the real meaning of the danger zone."

The first thing I did when I first sat down with "We Got It..." was to make sure I wasn't comparing it to "Low End" or "Midnight" but just listening to it & enjoying it for what it is...the last "new" Tribe Called Quest album I'd hear. And ya'll know what? If this is the last time that I hear Linden's finest, then I'm all good cause this album is doper then what I expected. But don't forget...I didn't expect much in the first place. The three biggest things I walked away from "We Got It..." is Tip & Phife haven't lost a step on the mic, Cons has redeemed himself from ruining "Beats, Rhymes & Life" for me & I FINALLY found out why Jarobi's in the group cause this dude can actually rhyme! Hearing Jarobi spit was like me finding out what Tommy's (God bless the dead) job was! Now that was the good with the album but ya'll know you can't have the good without the bad. And the bad in a nutshell is Tip & his weirdo ish. See, Tip to me is like that aunt in every black family who's good money on the collard greens & the sweet potatoes but can't make dope mac 'n' cheese to save her life. But nobody in the family got the heart to keep it 100 with her. Well, that's Tip cause half this album sounds like some good ole fashioned ATCQ aka dope collard greens & sweet potatoes and the other half sounds like it's a Kamal album aka wack mac 'n' cheese. Cause the last time I checked we were all hype as hell for a new Tribe album, not a new Kamal album. But come on ya'll, even some wack mac 'n' cheese can't ruin the entire Thanksgiving dinner right? I think the craziest thing for me was by the time I finished the album, I didn't know how to feel.  I mean, one minute I'm happy as hell to be hearing some new Tribe but then the next minute I get sad every time I heard Phife's voice cause it was a constant reminder that the Five Foot Assassin isn't with us anymore. But even through the sadness there's absolutely no way you can help from smiling ear to ear. And it's not only because we're hearing some new Tribe but more importantly we're witnessing over 30 plus years friendship coming full circle and at the end of the day what could be doper then that?

4 outta 5 mics

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