2016, Music

We Got it from Here… Thank You For Your Service (2016) by A Tribe Called Quest

Though I am not a fan of hip hop for some reason Tribe were always one of the few groups I was interested in. They were somehow more compelling to me, without knowing basically anything about them, than a lot of other groups. Weirdly, I watched their documentary well before I ever listened to one of their albums.

So this is their first album in years and last it looks like, due to the death of one of their members, something I think I was unaware of until I looked this up. (It shows you how connected I am to this side of pop culture.)

For someone who doesn’t know the group very well, this very much feels like classic Tribe albeit updated for 2016. It sounds like them but it’s clear from the lyrics they are trying to make their sound relevant for the US of that year.

The production feels as creative as ever and doesn’t sound dated. Sure, some samples are from another time but that’s true of numerous hip hop records. Almost always, it feels like the sample is to a purpose, even if it might not be as radically integrated as some now. Also, these samples come from things I often know, and sometimes really like. These guys like some of the same culture I like, which helps a lot.

I think how much I like this in part comes from my familiarity. I have heard these guys – and many of their guests – rap a number of times before, I know their voices well enough and their perspectives. But, crucially, to me, this is what I think hip hop sounds like. A lot of more recent rappers sing some of time (often not well), or mumble, or heavily distort their vocals. I gotta say I enjoy listened to an album where that is not happening.

You shouldn’t take my word for it but it’s a fitting conclusion to a great career.

8/10

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