Fandom and respect come with the territory when you’re a group like A Tribe Called Quest. They haven’t dropped an album in about 13 years. Nevertheless, they’re still revered as one of the genre’s best, most influential acts. Their profile dipped ever since they fell out with each over and Jive but, at the same time, you could see them dropping another album if everyone’s on the same page. Phife gave the possibility some shine in an interview with Hard Knock TV.Thing is, would you want to hear another album from one of rap’s most storied acts?
Now this isn’t meant with any disrespect. The Tribe’s been one of my favorite groups without question. At the same time I can’t help but feel like their chemistry waned since they split. Also, you’ve seen this scenario time and again. Golden era groups and MCs get together to make new music only for it to lack the quality seen in their best days. Of course heads are free to release albums whenever. It’s their career and their choice: not mine. And, more importantly, fans mostly forget they heard those songs in their impressionable years where we often look back at life with rose-tinted shades. Therefore, pretty much anything else that doesn’t emulate their best work is written off as wack. What’s more is it’s disappointing to hear one of your top artists lose their spark after years of wear and tear. Therefore, I fear the same thing could happen if Tribe got together to release a new project. It may be akin to witnessing a great pro player gradually lose his elite status over time: only to retire at the end of some team’s bench. That’s never a good sight and, sometimes, it’s better not to mess with memories when they’re favorable.
Conversely, we haven’t heard any new material from them in years anyway. So the sentiment of impending failure is largely based off of their peers recent stumbles towards capture the sound from when they were in top form. Plus, with rap being what it is now, a new, concerted effort couldn’t hurt THAT much: focus on concerted. The demand for a new Tribe record isn’t overwhelming but it’s big enough to put money behind it. Michael Rappaport’s documentary got their name buzzing again so it’s not like no one’s interested. Additionally, The Love Movement never felt like a proper send off. Of course everyone isn’t entitled to capping things off the “right” way. Yet that record played they had more work left in them. The energy could’ve been lost over a decade and change. But we’ll never know unless they try to make another record.
So, as you can see, the off chance of having Tribe reunite for another studio release is a double edged sword. The trio can mess around and recapture the sound that made them renown a la Raekwon’s OB4CL2 to considerable success. Another possibility suggests them dropping an LP which walks the line between good and mediocre all while not meeting lofty expectations. Or they might drop a dud and make heads wonder why they even bothered.
I’m honestly not hurting for a new Tribe Called Quest LP. Their emerging and peak years gave me enough material to enjoy for years. Therefore, if they got serious about creating a new project, my first response would likely be cautious optimism. The members could feel like their last record wasn’t the best way to cap off their career. But, as it stands, I don’t think they’re obligated to follow up with a stronger collection of songs.