A Tribe Called Quest’s We Got it From Here… might be the album of the year
As we woke up on Friday in a daze, hit by the gravity and bleak finality of one of the most unfathomably surreal and draining weeks of our collective lives, A Tribe Called Quest had just dropped 2016’s most inspired and unlikely record. There was no way that this thing should even exist, much less be this fucking good, transcending far beyond all conceivable expectations of what a Tribe record could be eighteen years after their last release. Hitting play on We Got it From Here for the first time on Friday morning would prove to be the most emotional listening experience of the year: from that electric moment that Tip + Phife started in on the chorus of prescient opening track “The Space Program” — it’s time to go left and not right / gotta get it together forever — I was hit by an overwhelming wave of giddiness and wonder, mixed with an undeniable tinge of melancholy, and the fleeting sensation that this had to be nostalgia playing tricks on me. But countless repeat listens over the weekend would confirm that Tribe had returned fully-formed against all odds, like everyone had remained at their peak, with a perfect cast of collaborators in tow, not a single forced feature among them, all on board for a singular, egoless purpose. They’d somehow created this incredible vintage Golden Age utopia where even Sir Elton sounds dope as hell, but they also made something that feels impossibly fresh and relevant, the group fully aware of the moment, totally purposeful in their intent to deliver something great while mourning, and honoring, the loss of a friend. The cumulative effect is this weird, poignant catharsis that was totally unexpected and much needed, a beautiful and thrilling and triumphant final statement from one of our favorite groups of all time. Listen below, and pick it up on vinyl here.