Last week we learned the tremendous news that a brand new A Tribe Called Quest album would be arriving soon, and just as L.A. Reid had promised, it was recorded before Phife Dawg’s untimely death from diabetes complications earlier this year. Now the legendary group has given their first interview about the new project, which is called We Got It From Here, Thank You For Your Service.
Speaking with The New York Times, Tribe reveal that the album features all four official group members — Q-Tip, Phife, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Jarobi White — plus guests including André 3000, Kendrick Lamar, Elton John, Jack White, and Busta Rhymes. According to Q-Tip, “Everybody wrote his stuff in front of everybody. Everybody spat their rhymes in front of each other. We were throwing ideas around together.” Jack White in particular had important creative impact on the project, Tip said: “He just took a guitar off the wall and plugged it in and just got his wizard on.” Looks like that mysterious photo of Q-Tip, Andre, Jack White, Chris Rock and friends — jokingly alleged to be part of an Andre 3000 recording session — was related to Tribe’s project.
The feature also explains that work on the new album began after Tribe’s reunion performance on Fallon last fall. Per Q-Tip, “It felt right. The energy was right. It felt like we was those kids that had that big show in Paris when they were 19. It felt fresh. It felt exciting. It felt new. Plus, it was just good to be with my brothers after all of that time.”
Although Tip and White were ready to go right away, Muhammad was busy in LA working on the music for Netflix’s Luke Cage, while Phife was in Oakland recording solo material and dealing with health problems. Phife also felt the need to repair his friendship with Q-Tip, so he flew to Tip’s home to hang out: “He came here, and we was bonding. We went through all of the stuff and apologized, and it was just so good, man. We were so back.” Once he found a clinic in New Jersey where he could receive dialysis, Phife began flying between Oakland and New Jersey twice a month and staying at Tip’s home during weekslong recording sessions. Their friendship rekindled to the point that he was considering a move to Q-Tip’s neighborhood.
Beyond information about the album, the story is worth reading just for Q-Tip’s emotional reflections on his friendship with Phife and his process of coping with Phife’s death. Check it out here.
We Got It From Here, Thank You For Your Service is out 11/11 on Epic.