“Hello… I will be enhancing your cassettes and CDs with certain facts that you may find beneficial. The average bounce meter for your Midnight Marauder program will be in the area of 95 BPM. We hope that you will find our presentation precise, bass heavy and just right.” The monotonic Midnight Marauder tour guide clears your head to prepare you for the journey through the minds of A Tribe Called Quest.
Are you ready for the intrinsic sound of the Tribe – to become one with the Tribe and let the rhymes and rhythms hypnotize you and consume your thoughts? A Tribe Called Quest is back, booming through speakers and spreading musical genius. Founded in 1985, this legendary rap group, composed of MC and producer Q-tip, MC Phife Dawg, DJ and producer Ali Shaheed Muhammed and part-time member Jarobi, was and still is considered the most sophisticated, artistically innovative rap group of all time. The Tribe’s stimulating sound provides fans with a long lasting feeling of elation, spitting insightful bars about the truths of society and the role rhythm plays in their lives. Get a feel for their sound before moving on:
From 1990-1998, A Tribe Called Quest released a total of five hit albums. Since then, their drops have consisted only of greatest hits and remix compilations, which are undoubtedly enjoyable, but not quite satiating that Tribe thirst we fans feel to our core. This means that the Tribe has sat back for eighteen years – enough time to see the development of the Millennial generation – until finally dropping their new release: We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service. They have clearly been observant, as the group comes firing out with melodic social commentary preaching the continued fight for equality.
Alternating between Kanye-level bragging about their raw MC skills and catchy hooks illustrating society’s problems in every area from the government to the media, A Tribe Called Quest has come out with a work of art that speaks invaluable levels. Mr. Muhammed lays down a combination of sounds that take the listener to a new world, sampling the “oompa loompas” from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and throwing intergalactic keyboard notes over classic 90’s drum-and-bass lines. While the music takes the audio receptors of your brain to a state of euphoria, the MCs paint the picture of a very familiar world – our own. In a style reminiscent of spoken word poetry at times, Tribe describes a dystopian society. On the second track, “We the People…” the group somberly sings a ballad that indicates the forced deportation of minorities. The lyrics reflect the prejudices that create societal problems today. The somber tone of the Tribe shows their disappointment in the anti-minority attitude that is still so deeply ingrained in many American families.
This long-anticipated album features XXL Freshman Anderson .Paak, as well as hip-hop legends André 3000, Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West. Anderson .Paak harmonizes with a simple bass line in “Movin Backwards,” immediately followed by Kendrick Lamar bringing an unexpected intensity to enhance the message of the album and help the Tribe reach fans of the new hip-hop generation. This song, “Conrad Tokyo” breaks into a groove comparable to the classic Tribe anthem, “Electric Relaxation.” André 3000 adds another element of excitement, diving into his verse on the first beat of “Kids…” His iconic voice, immediately recognizable from his past as a member of Outkast, demands the attention of our generation as he preaches along with Q-Tip about adolescence and the need to face reality rather than escape from it.
This brings us directly into the supersonic vibes of “Melatonin.” In a similar tone to Kanye’s honest “I think I think too much” lyrics from The Life of Pablo’s “Fade,” Abbey Smith sweetly sings the chorus “So many thoughts in my mind, makin’ it very hard to unwind, I guess I should take one, just one.” Reflecting the fast pace of society, the Tribe gives us a hypnotic beat to help us slow down and take “just one” thought.
A Tribe Called Quest has returned from their hiatus with a revolutionary album that reasserts both their status as hip-hop legends, and the importance of political and social analysis in music. Combining their original sound with the opportunity to explore new technology has given way to a timeless production sure to impact the direction of new-aged rap music. Some of us have waited a lifetime for a fresh batch of Tribe tracks, and we have just been blessed with a gift we can kick it to from the founders of vibey rap.