by Carla Bynum
The album commences perfectly with the song “The Space Program” about the struggles still apparent in the black community. The album sets the tone for the remainder of the album. ATCQ performed the song on Saturday Nigth Live on November 12th.
“We the People…” sums up the album perfectly and is one of the most political on the album because it touches on subjects such as racial and religious discrimination, inequality for women, and police brutality. All the “bad people” such as blacks, Mexicans, gays and Muslims must go according to the government.
Growing up in a place where the odds are automatically stacked against you because of the color of your skin is difficult but a harsh reality for minorities. “Whateva Will Be” is a dismal song because in each verse, they want to obtain some type of hope that things will get better but they don’t. Phife recalled a time when he was referred to as another dummy in the system, while frequent collaborator Consequence years to feel as liberated as lions in Liberia. Jarobi’s verse talks about how certain marketing techniques were put in place to make black people feel inferior.
“Solid Wall of Sound” is one of the more fun songs on the album and features frequent collaborator Busta Rhymes. The song features them trading rhymes back and forth and also features a sample of Elton John from “Benny and the Jets.” The album also closes with an extended Elton John sample.
ATCQ and Busta Rhymes praise the new generation of rappers who are continuing the legacy that Tribe created over 25 years ago on the track “Dis Generation.” The chorus features a sample from Musical Youth’s 1982 hit “Pass the Dutchie” that states “dis generation rules di nation.”
“Kids…” features Q-Tip and Andre 3000 exchanging verses and repeats the line “Kids, don’t you know all this shit is fantasy?” While the meaning of the line is open for interpretation, it seems that they are saying that no matter what path you follow in life as a black person, there are no guarantees of success and the obtainment of it is imaginary.
“Melatonin” is a drug commonly used to aide people who have trouble sleeping. Q-Tip raps about how the recreational use of the drug can induce a calm and dream-like state. The song features Abbey Smith and Marsha Ambrosius. When they find it hard to unwind, they take a melatonin to help them relax.
“Enough” is a song that has Tribe questioning whether or not they show enough love or spend enough time with their lovers since they’re always grinding.
“Mobius” is named after German scientist August Möbius who discovered the Möbius strip which is a surface with only one side and only one boundary. The name for the song likely came about because the production seems to imitate the shape of the Möbius strip. The song features sole verses from frequent collaborators Consequence and Busta Rhymes who both destroyed the track with their differing flows.
Q-Tip channels the late Phife Dawg on the track “Black Spasmodic,” which also features a verse from Phife and Consequence.
“The Killing Season” is an essential record because it uses the military and soldiers as a way to relate the subject to the injustices of black people in America. It seems as though we are in killing season because of the continuous murders of black people across America. The album’s title and Veterans Day release date also carry strong references to the military. The song features verses from Talib Kweli and Consequence while Kanye West covers the hook.
As the title “Lost Somebody” suggests, this song is dedicated to Phife Dawg who passed away prior to the album’s release. The song is an emotional one with lyrics such as “no more crying, he’s in sunshine. He’s alright now, see his wings,” which are beautifully sung by Katia Cadet.
Anderson .Paak’s sound is the perfect addition to the song “Movin Backwards,” which is about the thin line between success and failure.
Phife Dawg and Kendrick Lamar rap about the troubling state America is in politically on the track “Conrad Tokyo.” The song also mentions the division between the country and how there’s no room for American’s to take things lightly.
The “Ego” affects people in different ways and Q-Tip explores those differences on this track. When faced with a problem, a person’s ego can make them do one of two things: face the music or run away. Tip’s rap in the first verse seems more timid, however, in the second verse, he takes on a more boastful and confident role.
“The Donald” serves as another tribute to the late Phife Dawg who is also known by the nickname Don Juice. The song features a verse from Busta Rhymes and vocals by Katia Cadet. They praise the “Trini Gladiator” and his wicked lyrics and undeniable legacy.
How many artists do you know that can release an album in 1998 and come back 18 years later as if nothing has changed? We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service features that Tribe sound that we have loved for years in a new way. They take on topics that many artists choose to stray from and do so in a fantastic way. Although Phife Dawg wasn’t able to see the release of A Tribe Called Quest’s last album, his presence and influence is felt throughout. R.I.P.
Recommended Tracks: The whole damn album.