After the election result, I could not really think straight for a long time, got traumatized I must say, but thankfully A Tribe Called Quest’s new and final album was released, “We got it from here, thank you 4 your service” and it is the only thing that made sense to me amidst all the chaos. It also brought so many flashback memories to me. As a kid growing up in a tiny island in South East Asia (and back in the 90s it was rare to see foreigners there) I did not know much about my identity. There were very few African figures in my surrounding environment to look up to, identity was always a blank space for me.
Until i started listening to A Tribe Called Quest.
The first track I heard was Can I kick it? from their third album People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm and that track was enough to get me hooked for life to the poetic and legendary combination of MC and producer Q-tip, The late Five Foot Assassin MC Phife Dawg and DJ and Producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad as well as MC Jarobi white.
I got introduced to the side of my roots that was lost between straight hair which i didn’t have and lighter skin tones around me, I got introduced to Afrocentrism, I got introduced to the Native Tongues, to De La Soul, to The Jungle Brothers, to people who did not have straight hair and wore dashikis and dreadlocks proud, to people who had dark skin tones and embraced it, to people who loved reading books like myself. Not being able to understand your roots can be spiritually draining and A Tribe Called Quest helped me a lot in learning about my roots and identity, they introduced me to a new world back then, to being proud to come from Africa, to feeling a spiritual connection with all blacks and browns all over the world. Now they definitely did not introduce Afrocentrism as a new thing to the world but they, all the way from the boroughs of New york introduced the 11 year old me living in a small country in Borneo Island to my African Roots! Just as they made me love hip hop even more!
So to The Tribe, Thank YOU for your Service!
Do listen to their last album, you will never feel like they were gone for 18 years. The Tribe dropped this significant album right after Trump’s election and it healed my soul as it metaphorically delved into Gentrification, and Addressed Racism, Classism, homophobia and xenophobia in the United States and outside of the realm of politics, the album delves into relationships and insomniac thoughts. The album includes features from Jack White, Busta Rhymes, Andre 3000, Elton John, Kanye and Talib Kweli. Here is to the soul of the great Phife Dawg, We the people.