Death of the Critic

We got it from Here... Thank You 4 Your service - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich


It can be really hard to talk about some albums. To get across exactly what is going on in the layers of music that the artist has built up. The better the album is, the more difficulty I have talking about them in a way that I feel does them justice. It would be the easiest review in the world to say that an album was trash, and convince you of it. But to say that an album is excellent? Amazing? It becomes increasingly difficult to make that point in a way that carries the full weight the album holds. I'll say this without reservations, We got it from Here... Thank You 4 Your service is hands down one of the best albums to come out this year, and if you care at all about hip-hop, you should listen to this album.

It has been a long 18 years since A Tribe Called Quest last released an album. It was a turbulent time for them, and many of us thought that we would never again see the day that you could buy one of their albums on shelves.  A lot has changed since then, but at the same time, not enough has.
We got it from Here is part tribute, part snapshot of modern times, part passing of the torch to a new generation. Most importantly it is a warning to all of us that something needs to change, that all of this shit needs to stop. It is a powerful, 16 track album that pulls from so many different places that it changes from simple hip-hop to something more, crossing boundaries between funk, jazz, and hip-hop, and elegantly blending them into something that is greater than the sum of its parts.

This juxtaposition of styles and lyrics allows them to layer their message throughout the sound in the album. "We the People" has to be the best track here, as it goes after social commentary in the opposite direction, by taking the voice of the other side, rapping complaints about black people, gay people, muslim people, poor people, and more. The "bad" people that the public are so afraid of. By taking their voice, and going at this message from the opposite side, it gives a powerful sense of perversion to what they are saying. How could anyone say this? How could anyone believe this?

A Tribe Called Quest started recording this album after last fall’s performance on Jimmy Fallon the night of the attacks in Paris. They felt that something was going wrong in the world and they wanted to speak up to stop it. In the year since then, so much has happened, and you can see the influence of all of it on this album: the hate, the fear, the confusion. Everything that has been building up over the years that has all of a sudden come to a head in the last six months. There seems to be a disconnect in society that ATCQ has seen, but how exactly can we fix it?

It would not be an ATCQ album if it wasn't politically and socially charged, and
We got it from Here totally is. They ask that we recognize our issues and face them head on instead of running away from them like we have been. It's a world where you find "your missies smitten rubbing on a little kitten / dreaming of a world that's equal for women with no division." A world where women masturbate to the idea that they are treated equally. A world where a woman can be President of the United States.

It is hard to put this album into a single box. It isn't simply rap and it isn't simply funk. No two songs sound quite alike. Album closer "The Donald" pays tribute to the late Phife Dawg, while tracks like "We the People" and "Melatonin" go in completely opposite directions, thematically and sonically. There isn't any fluff here, nothing that seems redundant. It allows the three men to explore the space that they once again find themselves inhabiting after almost two decades have gone by. Phife Dawg, Q-Tip, and Jarobi tear through the tracks with reckless abandon, and long side collaborator Busta Rhymes is in rare form, dropping verses that threaten to steal the show in a way that I haven't heard out of him in a long time.

It is hard to say how great this album is. It is exactly what ATCQ fans have been waiting for over the long 18 years since their last project. It feels like a new album of theirs, not some attempt to cash in on their name or the current political climate. It is the pinnacle of decades of their music condensed down to one album. It won't top
The Low End Theory, but that is a high enough bar that few albums ever will. Times have changed, but we have not, and with We got it from Here... Thank You 4 Your service A Tribe Called Quest has created powerful protest music that will last a long time. It isn't a perfect album, but it is as close as we will get this year.


Editor's Choice


Disc 1:

1. The Space Program
2. We The People…
3. Whateva Will Be (Feat. Consequence)
4. Solid Wall of Sound (Feat. Busta Rhymes, Elton John, and Jack White)
5. Dis Generation (Feat. Busta Rhymes)
6. Kids… (Feat. André 3000)
7. Melatonin (Feat. Marsha Ambrosius and Abbey Smith)
8. Enough!!

Disc 2:
1. Mobius (Feat. Consequence and Busta Rhymes)
2. Black Spasmodic (Feat. Consequence)
3. The Killing Season (Feat. Kanye West, Talib Kweli, and Consequence)
4. Lost Somebody (Feat. Katia Cadet)
5. Movin Backwards (Feat. Anderson .Paak)
6. Conrad Tokyo (Feat. Kendrick Lamar)
7. Ego (Feat. Jack White)
8. The Donald (Feat. Busta Rhymes and Katia Cadet)

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Tom has been writing about media since he was a senior in high school. He likes long walks on the beach, dark liquor, and when characters reload guns in action movies.

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