On November 11th, 2016, hip-hop legends, “A Tribe Called Quest” released their sixth and final album, “We Got it from Here… Thank you 4 Your Service”. The group, formed in 1985, was originally composed of MC and producer Q-Tip (Kamaal Ibn John Fareed,) MC Phife Dawg (Malik Izaak Taylor,) DJ and producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and MC Jarobi White. All four members of the group came together after an 18-year hiatus to complete the album.
Unfortunately, turmoil between group members Q-Tip and Phife Dawg led to an extended period of silence. It was in November of 2015 when the group performed on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” in celebration of the 25th anniversary of its debut album, “People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm”, that Q-Tip finally said “it felt right.” It was the group’s first television appearance in 15 years. (1)
Phife Dawg had been suffering from diabetes for many years, and he spent his last days working on the album. While Phife had long pursued a group reunion, other group members suspected that the many months of traveling between his home in Oakland and Q-Tip’s home studio in New Jersey might have expedited his declining health. Phife Dawg passed away on March 22, 2016 at the age of 45. In an interview with The New York Times Jarobi White said, “Doing this album killed him. And he was very happy to go out like that.” Many of the songs, such as “Black Spasmodic”, and “The Donald” pay tribute to Phife Dawg.
The album is incredibly emotional as ATCQ mourn and celebrate their fellow group member Phife. It is also political and philosophical, typical to the rest of ATCQ’s work. There are many references to gentrification, mass incarceration, racial discrimination, Black Lives Matter, the 2016 US Presidential Election, global warming, problems in media, sexism, just to name a few running themes. “We The People…” is one of the most political songs on the album.