Tribe are often described as one of the most seminal hip hop groups of the past however-many years, but that’s not what this record is about; it’s not just about legacy, it’s not dominated by ego (though there is a track of that name), and it’s not about the comeback either. It’s just what ATCQ always have been – all about the music and whatever comes out comes out. It’s a testament to what they meant then and what they mean now.
Tribe have talked about how they’d have everyone from Queen to Kendrick on in the studio while Q-Tip directed and they dreamt up the album with pen and paper, and the differentiation in the soundtrack pushes eccentric and verges, in the best possible way, on downright bizarre.
Everyone from Andre 3000 to Kendrick Lamar, Jack White, and Kanye West worked on or guests on the record. Kendrick makes ‘Conrad Tokyo’ with one of the verses and the tracks of the record, and Andre smashes it on ‘Kids’ too.
‘Solid Wall of Sound’ samples Elton John’s ‘Benny and the Jets’, ‘Enough!!’ samples Rotary Connection’s ‘Memory Band’, standout track ‘Dis Generation’ has a perfect sample of Musical Youth’s ‘Pass the Dutchie’ and the two opening tracks sample everything from Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory to MJ’s ‘Thriller’ to Black Sabbath’s ‘Behind the Wall’. That should start to give you an idea of the rather eclectic blend that’s gone into the album. And they all slot in perfectly without question. Of course they do. It’s A Tribe Called Quest.
The album is a hefty 16 tracks split into two sides and delivering what Tribe always have; irresistible flow; carefully selected samples to send you dreaming and a style that allows them to flow through paces and genres like they’re flicking through a musical encyclopaedia. 16 tracks are often too long on a record but as soon as we finished this one, we stuck it right back on.
These are sit down and write beats; can’t stop moving, dance down the street beats, big bad soundtrack beats and screaming out the loops beats.
This isn’t a revival record; it’s just A Tribe Called Quest, back for the first time since 1998, and fresh and funky as ever.