We Got It From Here, ATCQ

By Jaylin Paschal

The last album from A Tribe Called Quest, The Love Moment, was released in 1998. The year I was born. I grew up in a hip hop household. Hearing ATCQ playing was as normal as hearing shower water running, or smelling burnt toast. They were always present in my childhood, influential to my adolescence, and now, as I'm beginning to navigate adulthood, their chapter is ending with Thank You for Your Service... We Got It From Here.

I was overwhelmingly upset when Phife died. Most people didn't understand this reaction, asking "What you know about Tribe?" and shrugging me off. Understandable, honestly. But when I heard about We Got It From Here, I was overwhelmingly excited. Again, met with "Girl, what you know about Tribe?" But soon enough, this excitement developed into anxiety. My anticipation provided just enough room for worry.

The concern came from several sources. Would it sound like they were stuck in the 90's? Would they try to hard to adapt to the contemporary sound? Would their features be contributing or distracting? Would Phife's limited presence take away from the collective?  Would it seem too forced? Would my last thought regarding one of my favorite entities of hip hop culture be negative? I was nervous, to say the least.

I've listened to the album twice through now. The first listen was without looking at the track list, or reading reviews, or checking the hashtag, or skimming through the credits. I just listened. And I love it.

Q-Tip's rhymes are nothing less than they've ever been. Jarobi's presence is more prevalent that ever before. Ali's work ties the vision together. And Phife is distributed nostalgically through the project; his absence is noticeable, but commemorative rather than deductive.

Collaborations with Anderson .Paak, Andre 3000, Kendrick Lamar, Busta, Jack White, Kanye, etc. are not at all over or underwhelming. They're perfect. They meld the album together, making it dynamic without subtracting from cohesiveness.

We Got It From Here is thoughtful. It is balanced. It is modern, and it is classic--which I suppose means it is renaissance. It is introspective, empathetic, and intelligent. And musically, it is gorgeous.

I won't go on to make any large, comparative proclamations about this album. It's so historic and dense that it needs more time to be thoroughly processed and completely digested. What I will say off of first impression, though, is that is that We Got It From Here is the perfect punctuation to one of the greatest and most important stories of hip hop.

Thank you for your service to the culture, Phife, Q-Tip, Ali, and Jarobi. We got it from here.

Jaylin PaschalComment