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Thank you for your service, Tribe
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The year of 1990 was blessed. A few months ago, my ears became blessed. And hopefully Phife Dawg has grown his wings.

Thank you for your service, A Tribe Called Quest. “Midnight Marauders” gave me a sense of “Electric Relaxation,” that nothing has ever brought upon me, and you had set high expectations for the hip-hop world decades ago.

Nov. 11, this New York-based hip-hop trio made a bang with their finale. With this unexpected album, and with little to no publicity, the public was certain their break up nearly twenty years ago was for good.  

The limelight was too much. What was once an MC’s dream became a waste of time. After “The Love Movement” was released in 1998, they split. Conflict was brought upon the trio and did not result in a happy ending. It’s obvious now these high school buds could not last that long away from the studio together.

Here’s the thing, 18 years is a long time to be silent. Sure, Q-Tip, founder Phife Dawg, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad continued as solo artists, but Tribe is Tribe. It’s like having One Direction split. Sure, Zayn Malik’s album is catchy, but having One Direction form again would warm your heart.

“We got it from Here… Thank you 4 Your service” came straight out of the era of chokers, grunge, and Biggy. There is absolutely nothing modern about it.

Similar to old school Tribe, the elevator, jazzy, tune is the base and hard beats go beneath the surface. The only difference is the sink in the stomach when “The Five Foot Freak” goes on.

Eight months back, after many years of diabetes complications, Phife Dawg passed away at the age of 45. The album was produced in late 2015. The catch phrase is always “Phife” this, “Phife” that, to throw the verse to him. Hearing him throw down a rhyme is heart-rendering because he is gone.

According to the New York Times, three of their five albums went platinum, while two went gold. Knowing he contributed to all the work but now he is gone is mind boggling. It just proves taking care of your wellbeing is the most important thing to do.

Back to the album, it is easily comparable with any of the eight award winning CDs. The guys sound like they did in their twenties, the chill vibes are there, and the usual Q-Tip to Phife Dawg to Muhammad lyricism is alive and well. The message, however, is not like any other.

This one is political. In the song “We The People,” it is clear they are liberal and agree there are plenty of flaws in the system. Poverty, racial discrimination, and people not trusting the ones in charge is discussed. The sad reality is explicit, and any truth that was fuzzy is now clear.

“The Donald” is deceiving. With a government storyline, the death of Phife Dawg takes a toll on the album. It is the last track, and the last line is “Phife Dawg.” “Lost Somebody” is on Dawg’s life and how he will be missed in the hip-hop community.

Tribe is the group that got me invested in the older generations of music. Nothing sounds better than the group spitting rhythms on vinyl, and they will always have a special place in my heart. Goodbye thick New York accents, thank you for your service.

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Sarah Biernat, Author

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