When A Tribe Called Quest dropped their freshman album People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm in 1990, I was just a little over a month old. I wouldn’t hear the album until my freshman year in college around 2009-10. Despite the album being two decades old, tracks like I Left My Wallet in El Segundo and Can I Kick It? still sounded so very much relevant sonically, especially when, in the early 2000s, rappers like Kanye West (the old Kanye) and Lupe Fiasco were using jazzy flows in their beat production in the same vein as ATCQ. Low End Theory is a classic and Midnight Marauders still marauds my ears (If anyone has leads on original pressings of the vinyls for these albums, hit me up!).
A couple weeks ago, the group (Q-Tip, Jarobi White, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad) dropped their final project titled We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service. I know they had a falling out over the years, and with Phife Dawg’s passing earlier this year, the news came as a pleasant surprise. But I was skeptical and afraid, that the sound would not live up to the A Tribe that I know and loved. I’m happy to report they haven’t skipped a beat.
Each member has matured in life since their first track release, and so has their music. Through Native Tongues and Zulu Nation, ATCQ was political since the early days, but with the track We the People from the new album, they leave no room for interpretation on where they stand in the current political climate. The message couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. Give the video a play and you’ll see what I mean.
This is how the New School becomes the Old School, and the new New School takes over.