Can I kick it?
That was the question A Tribe Called Quest first posed way back in 1990 and the answer was, is, and always will be: Yes, you can. Sadly, Tribe won’t be kicking it much longer, as the iconic hip-hop group performed what they called their final L.A. show on day two of FYF Fest on Saturday. And if that was indeed their final SoCal appearance, the crew went out with a bang.
Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Jarobi and Consequence performed a lengthy 27-song set that touched on their full career at FYF. Opening with “The Space Program” from their incredible comeback album We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service, Tribe’s set celebrated both the joy of hip-hop and the power of collaboration. Though Phife Dawg’s playful spirit was deeply missed -- the rapper passed in March of 2016 and Q-Top spoke movingly of how his death has affected him personally -- Tribe’s surviving members honored him with a performance that showcased the group’s towering legacy.
That legacy extends beyond their own discography. At one point, Muhammad flipped a bit of the Galt Macdermot sample from “Woo-Hah!! Got You All In Check” and Raphael Saadiq, who has worked extensively with Tribe’s members, joined them to play the standup bass on “Buggin’ Out.” Consequence was also given a short solo showcase in which he spit his verse from Kanye West’s “Spaceship.” Added together, these little moments spoke volumes about the impact that Tribe has had on the culture.
But more than anything, the group’s performance was a vivid reminder of the exhilaration and ecstasy of classic hip-hop. Tribe was the gateway drug for innumerable hip-hop fans and, much like Missy Elliott the night before, their set -- which included a rare encore at a festival -- brought back the rush of excitement their fans first felt decades ago. Tribe truly does speak in Native Tongues.
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Other highlights from day two of FYF Fest….Thundercat jammed hard on tracks both old (“Lotus and the Jondy”) and new (“Friend Zone”) at his afternoon performance….MGMT dropped an electro pop masterpiece with their debut album Oracular Spectacular before shifting in a more proggy direction on subsequent releases. Their polarizing newer music sounded much better surrounded by classics like “Weekend Wars” and “Time To Pretend.”....I had never heard King Krule prior to catching their early evening set. The group’s frontman and creative architect Archy Ivan Marshall looks like he’s about 15 but sounds like he’s 50 and his dark mixture of post-punk and jazz was highly intriguing….Erykah Badu doesn’t wait on time; time waits on her. Badu was late to start her set but as always, she’s a fierce, magnetic and frequently hilarious performer, shouting out the ‘90s babies who received her DNA while sucking on their mama’s t*tties as they listen to Baduism 20 years ago. Badu’s nimble band sounded great as they worked in strains of “Shook Ones” into “On & On” and she remains one of the most amazing vocalists and writers of her generation. Her slot between Tribe and Frank Ocean felt both symbolic and fitting.
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