After a heartbreaking year that saw the death of Phife Dawg, one of the group’s core members, rap trailblazers A Tribe Called Quest have announced a fresh and final dose of New York hip hop to mark the end of their career.
The announcement was made on Twitter in the form of a handwritten note in from the group’s co-founder Q-Tip. Q-Tip’s note speaks of the group’s performance last year on The Tonight Show, which was coincidentally the same night as the Paris terror attacks. The note reads that this night was the catalyst for the new project, stating, “As we left 30 Rock I felt the need, we all did, to get back to the studio and start that cook up!! So we got to it!!” The note also talks of Phife Dawg’s death, claiming that the project was “coming together nicely and as you may know we lost our brither. May God rest his soul on March 22nd.”
It does state, however, that Phife Dawg had left them with the ‘blueprints’ of what was need for the album, and thus the remaining members recruited fellow ‘tribesmen’ Busta Rhymes and Consequence to help. On the album’s theme, Q-Tip writes, “this isn’t filled with old Phife bars… This is that pure, unstepped on pure!!” The note finishes stating, “We will complete our paths of rhythm… JOIN US!!”
The album will be the first LP released by A Tribe Called Quest since 1998’s The Love Movement. A Tribe Called Quest paved the way for a number of hip hop artists, including Outkast, Kanye, and Pharrell, over the years. They first stepped onto the scene in 1990 with People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm and began their storm into the mainstream hip hop scene with 1991’s seminal The Low End Theory, the album where Phife Dawg became a full member of the group. Their poetic and sophisticated lyricism combined with their smooth instrumentals, embodying the grit of New York while utilising samples from all walks of music, means it’s no surprise their final project will mark a historical moment in music.
Phife Dawg, one of the cofounders of group, passed away on March 22nd 2016 at age 45 from complications with Type 1 diabetes, an affliction he was diagnosed with in 1990 and one which he struggled with throughout his life. In an interview with Dazed from 2011, Phife stated that “being a diabetic is a 24/7 type of job, 365 days. So just being in the studio, hanging with the group, just the camaraderie in general took my mind off it. Music was always therapeutic for me.” This will be the first project the group have released without him.
The release is scheduled for November 11. Listen to Low End Theory below.