By Atibia “Broadway” Williams
With emotions running high after a crazy week of political satire where fiction became reality, the anticipation of A Tribe Called Quest Album was definitely needed. As I geared up for my usual morning gym routine, I put on ATCQ as my music of choice.
By the time I got to the second song, in my most Jamaican Patois voice the song “We The People” came on and I said to myself, “Big Tune Dat.” The vibe for the Tribe was set for Saturday night as my eagerness to see A Tribe Called Quest perform tracks for their first album in 18 years “We Got It From Here, Thank you 4 Your Service” on SNL.
The performances were touching, soulful, empowering and energetic. What really stuck out to me between performance and listening to the album was the strong sense of brotherhood and love which was seen in the performance and heard throughout the album.
The Tribe recruited long time brethren Busta Rhymes who transformed back into his Dungeon Dragon Busta reminiscent of “Scenario” days. With Consequence, Kendrick, Jack White, Kanye and Andre 3000, the listening experience was akin to Mom’s Sunday night family dinner, in other words after finishing the album, you felt full and satisfied.
In a way the SNL performance almost amplified an already amazing album. The brilliant and politically charged opening monologue of comedic legend Dave Chappell, coupled with the presidential election results made Tribe’s performance that much more important. The same track
“We The People”, that had me bobbing my head and kicking freestyles in the morning, was also the first song that was performed by Tribe on SNL. Although it was Jarobi and Q-Tip on stage, Phife’s spirit shone throughout both performances and was definitely in the building.
The album did a wonderful job of sonically mixing in contemporary sounds with that original Tribe feeling which will resonate with early hip-hop fans and today’s youth. These combined sounds remind me of a student by the name of Tre, every day Tre came into program playing music and dancing; 90’s hip-hop was the music era he loved the most. One of his favorite groups was Tribe Called Quest.
One day I said: “Tre, ‘Tribe’ is way before your time , why do you like them so much?” In his excited voice, he replied by starting to rap lyrics from Midnight Marauders. I was impressed because for one, his admiration of the classics bridged a major gap, and two, I couldn’t even remember those lyrics.. And here I’m looking at this young 17-year-old kid, reciting Tribe Called Quest lyrics while his classmates were reciting more contemporary artists of their generation like Drake.
Tre told me “Atibia, Tribe just has soul man, and their content is so meaningful I really get uplifted when I listen to them. I feel you Tre’, more than you know. Thanks Tribe for connecting people while inspiring another generation.
RIP Phife Dawg forever.