The Beats Rhymes & Life documentary (2011) ended with a slight hint that Tribe owed their record label one more album under their original contract from 1988. This seemed just an optimistic way to end a revealing documentary about one of Hip Hop’s greatest groups. Tumultuous times and social injustice brought the groups members back together behind the scenes and secretly the entire Tribe began recording one last album. These stories always come up with legendary bands or groups in music but with the amazing independent release of Tribe’s musical brother’s long awaited new album De La Soul broke the mold and perhaps sent shock waves through the dormant Native Tongues camp. Jarobi the “and sometimes Y” member of the group, the mysterious figure who always remained a core member of Tribe but was seldom seen and even less likely to be heard ironically was the only one of the four putting out material. Jarobi teamed up with fellow Native Tongue legend Dres of Black Sheep to release an astounding debut under their new group Evitan in 2012- 4 years after QTip’s last release. With one member getting their creative juices flowing and rumors of QTip’s solo album ‘The Last Zulu’ always rumbling their seemed be a small percentage that something tangible may actually appear out of the Tribe camp. After the Paris shootings, and a brief reunion on the ‘Yeezus’ tour, the secret recordings were kicked off in full gear- the heavy social climate of the time would only be a precursor to the social angst that would accompany the moment of the album’s release.
‘We The People’ finds Tribe in their most militant, sandwiched between two other powerful socially conscious songs that kick start the album. ‘The Space Program’ deals with a Sci-fi theory that is all to analogous to gentrification, white-flight, and the Country’s all to obvious cultural divide -highlighted by the controversial election of 45th President Donald Trump only a few days prior. ‘Kids’ has a surprise appearance by Andre 3000, who seems to be popping up a lot more as of recently, Tip and Dre’ trade verses about adolescence and it’s accompanying naivety. ‘Dis Generation’ has all 3 original Tribe MC’s finally trading bars Beastie Boys & Run DMC style over the beat. Jarobi makes sure you know ‘dude’s nice he’s tight screwed in with some pliers’ he holds his own with legendary MC’s fans have known to kill a track, Busta Rhymes even jumps into the cypher on the second verse to take the track to an even higher level. Busta has always been linked to Tribe and always linked to surprise show stealing verses but on ‘We Got It From Here’ Busta and reemerged Tribe member Consequence arguably steal the album on ‘Mobius’, putting on a clinic for all up and coming rhymers and veterans.
On the production side the album sounds like the logical step forward from ‘The Love Movement’ with a slight mix of ‘Kamaal The Abstract’ and a pinch of Madlib-ness with sudden sample switches and vocal snippets. ‘Conrad Tokyo’ is the only track which has a ‘The Renaissance’ vibe, QTip’s more recent Jazz-based work, which fittingly features Kendrick Lamar going toe to toe with Phife. With the untimely passing of Phife Dawg this album seems to have a somber side, though fans are glad that we get to hear his final work he is not physically around to experience A Tribe Called Quest’s first number one album in 20 years. ‘Lost Somebody’ is dedicated to Phife and has Tip and Jarobi sharing heartfelt memories about one of Hip Hop’s most slept on Legendary MCs. ‘Thanks 4 Your Service’ is the perfect final lap in a journey that has produced art that will live on forever. The titled, picked by Phife, but understood by none of the members can be taken many different ways and will never actually be deciphered but whatever the meaning truly is, we are indeed thankful 4 their service.