This week, A Tribe Called Quest has a new album, We got it from Here... Thank You 4 Your service.
It features all four original members, plus longtime affiliates like Busta Rhymes and Consequence, and some spectacular guest stars like Elton John and Jack White. More than just the names, however, it features some of the most amazing music that we all really needed right now.
Naturally, this begs the question, where has Tribe been? Well, we've got the answer.
The last time we heard from Tribe:
In 1998, the group put out The Love Movement. Promoted as their "final album" before it even hit store shelves, the members were not only struggling to get along with each other, but tensions at their record label caused such an implosion that it became a major-label release at the height of the music industry that only had one single. While we eventually got the single "I.C.U." with Erykah Badu from their aborted reunion in 2003, it wasn't until Michael Rapaport's 2011 documentary Beats, Rhymes & Life that we saw how the handful of late-aughts reunion performances showed how the group functioned in the present day.
However, last year when the group reunited to perform on NBC's Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon to mark the 25th anniversary of their debut album, magic was in the air and it lead to the album that we have today. So, in that between time, what was everyone up to?
Q-Tip, the absent abstract
Even when Tribe were still an entity, Q-Tip was always the most visible with his solo endeavors, including appearing on singles with Beastie Boys and Deee-Lite's "Groove is in the Heart." So, after Tribe initially dissolved, Tip was back the very next summer with the gigantic J. Dilla produced smash single "Vivrant Thing," and that autumn's solo album Amplified.
Despite Amplified being a huge mainstream success, his 2002 follow-up Kamaal the Abstract was shelved by his label for being too experimental. It was eventually released in 2009, a year following the critical smash of his third album The Renaissance. In the interim, Tip became more visible as an actor, appearing on Chappelle Show and in the films Honey, Spike Lee's She Hate Me and Cadillac Records. The last solo track we got from Q-Tip was his 2013 track with Busta Rhymes, "Thank U," which might have been the best single that year.
Phife Dawg, the roughneck business of a triumphant return
The "Five Foot Assassin" was largely quiet during the years between Tribe albums. His only solo album Ventilation: Da LP dropped in 2000, a year after Tip's, but didn't get nearly the same attention despite production from Pete Rock, J. Dilla, Hi-Tek and Rick Rock.
While he did appear on De La Soul and will.i.am albums, hip-hop didn't quite receive Phife as a solo artist until his recent output over production from a posthumous J.Dilla. Both "Dear Dilla" and "Nutshell" gave us a glimpse of what a revitalized but unrealized Phife Dawg solo album would have sounded like before his untimely death due to complications with diabetes last March.
Ali Shaheed Muhammad, he was here the whole time!
Oddly enough, Tribe's least public member may have been the one we most consistently heard from over the course of Tribe's hiatus. Along with continuing to be a regular worldwide touring DJ, the start of the millennium saw him team up with Raphael Saadiq and Dawn from En Vogue for hip-hop soul supergroup Lucy Pearl. While he only put out one solo album in 2004's Shaheedullah and Stereotypes, he handled production work for everyone from Mos Def to Maroon 5 to Adrian Younge and Mint Condition, as well as a song-writer for John Legend. Most recently, he co-produced the soundtrack to Marvel's Luke Cage.