A TRIBE CALLED QUEST: We Got It From Here…Thank You For Your Service

RELEASED: NOVEMBER 11, 2016, Epic Records/Sony Music

Review by Michael Grant, C.E.O. of RePPiN4U

On this day, we are celebrating  5 years of promoting great music and gaining respect and credibility from fans and artists. To this I could say “We Got It From Here…Thank You For Your Service”. But we gonna keep going. Trap music? Mumble Rap? Freestyling from smart phones, WE DON’T DO THAT OVER HERE!

So as a celebration, I decided to review this album, which is a celebration of iconic Hip Hop pioneers A Tribe Called Quest, when you mention the words Hip Hop, these are the guys that instantly come into people’s minds who define it and are mentioned in the same sentence with groups such as Public Enemy, Eric B & Rakim, Wu-Tang Clan, De La Soul.

March 22, 2016 was a horrible day to wake up to. Checking your social media has become one of the regular things to do in the morning with brushing your teeth and changing your brief. The loss of Phife Dawg rocked Hip Hop to its foundation and is up there with the losses of Big Pun, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and J Dilla, talking of which, was the first thing on my mind when I heard the news. I remembered Phife’s track ‘Dear Dilla’ which I consider very underrated and slept on. The lyrics in that, looking at it now made me think ‘whoa’… did Phife kinda know he was going? Almost like he dedicated the song to himself?

Hold tight, this ain’t the last time I see you
Due time, that’s my word, I’mma see you
Frontin’ ass rappers now here stealin’ intros
Posin’ like they hard when we know they all see through…” 

actq-new-albumWhile Hip Hop was in mourning for the longest since Sean Price, A Tribe Called Quest reconciled and secretly recorded a comeback album on the back of their recent reunion tour, and two weeks before the allotted release date, they dropped the bomb on us. Yes, half of admitted to be skeptical after the blemish that was ‘The Love Movement’, the rest of us were praising the most high that in the midst of this ‘mumble rap’ era, an album would come along to take us away from all that and take us back to the days of Midnight Mauraders. This is their first album after 18 years, and their ‘true’ final album. Have they gone out in a bang? Or will The Love Movement be the last image that fans will be forced to remember through the ages?

As you hit play on your iTunes (or in my case, CD which I highly recommend you do) you are instantly reminded of why you love ATCQ in the first place. ‘The Space Program’ does just that. You are glad that throughout the history, they finally made something happen here.

‘We The People’ is insanely amazing. The art of the Hip Hop anthem has not been forgotten… when this drop in a party or in a car – THAT’S A WRAP. What’s better, it could not have come at a better time in Trump’s America with Q-Tip’s tongue in cheek humor with the hook, while Phife brings a scathing verse.

The niceness continues will ‘Whateva Will Be’. So far J Dilla is up there smiling and thinking -‘my boys have done it again’ with the Nairobi Sister’s Promised Land sample, where the subject matter of social injustice and Trump’s America continue.

It’s from here now that ATCQ begin to diverse their music whilst keeping it them. A collaboration with Elton John would be the last thing on hip hop heads minds, but when you have been in the game as long as these guys, your exploration of music will branch out. Here a returning Bussa Bus appears in  a ‘Solid Wall Of Sound’ in his outta order Jamaican persona, it makes for a very interesting track for listeners to absorb a bit more than the first three tracks previous. It serves as a great intro  however to ‘Dis Generation’ where we see the whole tribe minus Consequence going line for line. Their diverse direction starts to ring the ears of Andre 3000 who comes through in ‘Kids’, blending in nicely like he’s part of the tribe too. The way he and Q-Tip describe the way we want our kids to believe something when in reality it’s harder to explain the harsh facts.

In ‘Melatonin’, Q-Tip goes for dolo while Abbey Smith provide extra vocals. great track but I strongly advise NOT to use the drug as it’s design is to help people who have trouble sleeping, and this is a project that 7 tracks in, should NOT be slept on.

I like the fact that ATCQ have maintained some nostalgic elements, like in ‘Enough!!’ The classic instruments used in ‘Bonita Applebum’ are brought back here to continue to please their long time fans and attract new fans in the process. This is one of those tracks that will become a favourite in the long-term after several listens. I also like te fact that ATCQ treated the project as if it was released some 20,25 years ago by including a ‘Side A’ and a ‘Side B’ in the project. Consequence kicks the B Side off with ‘Mobius’, but it’s Busta Rhymes who runs away with this one, channelling his inner Woo-Hah!! into the track! Very interesting how the rest of the tribe stand back and let these two go in, making it sound like ATCQ 2.0.

snl-a-tribe-called-quest-busta

Just as Bussa Bus tore up Mobius, Phife Dawg puts mumble rappers on blast in ‘Black Spasmodic’: “Trash rap the dead, pu$$y kill the chirping/No more f**k boys, sit down, sh!t can only get worse/And how do you touch mic with flows uncertain?
Speak game dry, boy, that flow ain’t workin’/Folks throwin’ items, them vex and cursin’
F**k made me wanna see these n!&&@$ in person?” Consider it the preparations for the ‘Killing Season’, which brings Talib Kweli and Kanye West into the mix, who thankfully for you hip hop purists has been relegated to just the hook. Also it’s great how they showcased Jarobi & Consequence here.

“Have you ever loved somebody?
Way before you got to dream?
No more crying, he’s in sunshine
He’s alright now, see his wings…”

Another track I consider a growing gem outside the obvious favourites is this one right here – ‘Lost Somebody’, where their expressions for their loss in Phife Dawg becomes very moving.

Even though ATCQ have moved forwards with their music, they decide to try ‘Movin Backwards’ one time and bring Anderson Paak with them. Here Jarobi throws shots at Fetty Wap and all the trap lords, leading by example set by Phife. Then Kendrick chimes in for a memorable, Source Hip Hop Quotable quality verse in Conrad Tokyo while Phife expresses his disdain for the presidential election. Imagine if he actually saw the results in the physical.

‘Ego’ sees Q-Tip going for dolo once again, bringing more nostalgic sounds into it provided by musician Jack White. Great to see him use the wordplay and break down various forms of Ego, even onto himself: “Ego make you violent or govern like a tyrant/Or switch a dictionary’s word from vibrant to vivrant/Fool the thirsty people, selling tap water in bottles/Fooled a girl with NYU scholarship and now she models
Ego has no ending, has people pretending/Religious zealots get jealous ’cause guys want their defending…”

Finally, ‘The Donald’. Which is a unique tribute to Phife which features the Trini Gladiator in his own ode. Salute the man known as Don Juice.

…And Phife Dawg is still not dun! His final solo album will be touching down in our stores sometime next year and that will be even more anticipated than ever now. Let’s keep it 100 – when his first solo dropped, not many of us noticed, all eyes were still on Q-Tip.

A part of me doesn’t want A Tribe Called Quest to end even though they can say they have on a great note. A part of me wants Consequence and Busta to become official and be ATCQ 2.0. They have successfully erased the lasting image The Love Movement had and crafted an album we never saw coming and were given just 2 weeks notice to prepare. 2016 has been a surprise year for the Native Tongues, when just a few months prior, De La Soul blessed us with new music too. Special mention to Busta Rhymes who really went in with this project, making both Dilla and Phife proud, an reminding us of how versatile he really is. While I personally would give the Album Of The Year award to Common, ATCQ is also worth deserving because of the story behind it.

TAKE A BOW GUYS, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE.

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BUSTA RHYMES: The Coming (20 Year Anniversary)

Released: March 26, 1996, Elektra Entertainment Group

Written by Michael Grant (C.E.O. of RePPiN4U)

It is supposed to be a time of celebration, another great album of the golden era which has reached its 20th Anniversary. But 2016 hasn’t been nice to our public figures. Our idols and heroes passing away left right and centre, at this rate, Papoose’s 2016 obituary will end up being an extended 12 minute cut at the end of the year.

Busta Rhymes debut album ‘The Coming’s 20th Anniversary has been overshadowed by the tragic death of Phife Dawg of iconic Hip Hop group A Tribe Called Quest, and instead of Busta celebrating his ‘baby’, he found himself writing a heartfelt felt letter to his lost comrade:

“…DEC.5th 2015, I was able to have a dream come true in a way that it never had and that was to perform What’s the scenario (original and the rmx) for the 1st time ever back to back with all of the original members of Leaders of the New School and A Tribe Called Quest since we recorded these songs in 1991 & 1992. That night was so magical with all of the love that was under one roof that it’s too much to get into the details of but again please take another look at this picture, if u notice @iamthephifer had his hand on my back consoling me as I kneeled down to give thanks crying tears of joy because of how proud of a moment that was for me being able to end a 4 hour set with brothers who put me in a position where I was able to tell my mother she will not have to work for anyone over 20 yrs ago. The belief that they had in me puttin’ me and Leaders on that record, putting me last on the record because back then being last on the record meant EVERYTHING, I had no idea at that time what they were setting me up in life to be but thru out the years it was so consistent their love and concern for my well-being that it was no way I couldn’t see it…” (Excerpt from Busta Rhymes Open heart-felt letter to Phife)

Scenario was the trigger to jump-start Busta’s solo career, unlike Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx and GZA’s Liquid Swords, I didn’t buy this album on day of release. It was a decision made after hearing a number of tracks on radio, and how he reminded me of Ol’ Dirty Bastard in terms of energy and delivery. I think it was roughly around May of 1996 when I brought it.

Busta Rhymes The ComingOnce again I take you back to when I was 16. I had quit my paper round after protest, and I was getting ready for my last day of compulsory education. This is Busta Rhymes: The Coming: MY STORY.

  1. THE COMING – Intro

Never before in Hip Hop did we encounter a voice which resembled a preacher… do not play this intro in front of Christians I can say that! Very amusing when Lord Have Mercy would reference Busta’s birthday but not reveal the year…almost comparing Busta to the creator himself. I can’t lie even I trembled when he said “We must bring the ruckus, to all you muthaf***az!” And saying it louder each time!

2. DO MY THING

What I loved about this album was Busta’s choice of wordplay: so feisty, energetic, animated and out of order: “When I step in the place you should keep your mouth closed
Take your fat finger out your nose
You should just pay attention, and watch how I wild on all the records
Make you sing, “The Lord is my shepherd!”

Yes pop pickers, before Eminem made your jaw drop with lyrics, there was Busta. (Sorry Tasker I had to steal your catch phrase!)

3. EVERYTHING REMAINS RAW

We need to bring back the belt… and beat down these wack rappers claiming to represent Hip Hop, they know who they are, I don’t need to state by name.

I officially have a driving license, but I don’t own a car. Everyone has a ‘things to do list’ before they die and in my list there is one where I sing ‘Everything Remains Raw’ with my crew going crazy in a car. It’s actually my theme when new year rolls around, while everyone else sings that other song in which I have no idea what it means or why it’s sung, I’d prefer to sing this hook, stating I will have a great, ‘raw’ year..

4. ABANDON SHIP

The other early aspect of Busta’s flow I missed was his ability to ‘break down the lyrics into syllables’. Rampage followed by example. The result – a synchronised tag team chemistry. It’s a real shame Rampage was next up from Flipmode, at least that’s how he was groomed initially.

5. WOO-HAH! I GOT YOU ALL IN CHECK

Yar-Yar-Yaaaar – Yarr -YAR! My last months at school were sent with me and my people singing just that… and everyone knew where it come from, and it spread like an epidemic.

True story – I first saw the video of this at my cousin’s house… come to think of it, I used to see a lot of hip hop videos at my cousin’s house! We were laughing our heads off all the way through… it wasn’t just Busta acting a fool, it was Q-Tip and Onyx in the video losing their minds. Q-Tip was gone!!! When the video finished, we were there holding our stomach because of the laughter and then I said, “Imagine if Busta did a remix with ODB?” 2 minutes later, the radio played just that – the remix! Gob smacked was not even the word to express that time.

6. IT’S A PARTY

I don’t think this is played enough at parties, thank goodness for DJs like Miss L Vibes who knows of the remixes to these tracks. This is the ‘calm’ Busta that we would get to know in his later albums. I’ve always prefered the feisty Busta though. Special mention to the little intermission that follows… it was another ‘go crazy in the the car moment’… I WILL do that with my clansmen before the po-po pulls me over.. after I show them my Hip Hop license they will understand… I saw them dancing with their truncheons to WHOA! at a carnival once for goodnesss sake!

Busta Rhymes The Coming 2

 

7. HOT FUDGE

Hot Fudge comin on in good lord…

I don’t know what I love more… the wordplay in this or the skit that follows! Can we say Busta was ahead of his time when he says this:

“Been in this too long to allow n!&&@$ to try to take mine
23 years deep and I still exist as BUSTA RHYMES!
Aeiyo, I’m in this to win this, gets down to handle my business
While I be Busta Rhymes you still be whoever your name is!!”

Up til now, certain artists out there talking nonsense in records and I don’t know who their name is, like that kid who is in love with the cocoa… (Er Grant – he’s signed with Busta’s Conglomerate label..) FOR REAL???? Er..Oh dear…!!!

8. ILL VIBE

Busta & Q-Tip have teased us with a few mixtapes lately… if Extinction Level Event 2 isn’t gonna surface for now, I’m sure the fans would love a full length LP from these two with Dilla handling most of the production. Yes Busta we are fully aware that Dilla left you a lot of beats like you was a vessel for him!

9. FLIPMODE SQUAD MEETS DEF SQUAD

Such a colossal record that a fan had to take it upon themselves to create a fan-made video. The jury is still out – who smashed the tune the most? For me, I think Keith Murray edged it for Def Squad, and Lord Have Mercy ran away with it for Flipmode. I can say this – if Lord Have was a local pastor, church would be packed to capacity crowd! Even the atheists and 5 percenters would be in attendance! Yeah I said it!

10. STILL SHINING

Personally I thought it was a good chess move to keep the track featuring B.I.G. off the album and had this instead which I feel is the better (and underrated Dilla) track as well. I remember playing this before what was my favourite track from the album…

Busta Rhymes tracklist

11. KEEP IT MOVING

To my knowledge this was the last Leaders Of the New School track before they unexpectedly reunited for ‘We Home’ recently. I remember Busta saying countless times in interviews that the Leaders would never reform. I believe now that Phife Dawg has returned to the essence it has made both the Leaders and the surviving members of A Tribe Called Quest re-assess their thoughts, it’s such a good thing that they all reunited on stage recently.

12. THE FINISH LINE

We all know that one person, who loves to talk all that jazz and we know they lying, and what do they hope to accomplish? Now its evolved to internet keyboard warriors, never left their basement, quick to talk slick, got no profile picture or never show their face. Back in the day, they would get a beatdown. Now? Yeah you could delete & block them, but then they pull a fast one, by making a fake account and proceeding to spy on people. You see those guys? They officially got no lives. Shame really…

13. THE END OF THE WORLD – Outro

Remember that? There’s only 5 years left? Ok be honest, who fell for that ‘Judgement day’ trick as it hit midnight January 1, 2000?!! I remember where I was at that precise moment though… let’s just say I was doing something you wouldn’t do!

This was the beginning of Busta Rhymes manifesting into the megastar hip hop legend he is now, and the best thing about his consistency, is when he performs on stage, he never forgets his roots. That’s why I know people cannot talk slick about Busta Rhymes in a negative. The man has the unique ability to work with anybody and everybody and be adapt. He also has that rare attribute of his sophomore albums (When Disaster Strikes, Extinction Level Event, Genesis etc) being greater than his solo debut.

TAKE A BOW BUSTA RHYMES, CONTINUE TO BRING THE RUCKUS, TO ALL THOSE MUTHAF***AZ!

Busta Rhymes - The Coming tray