a tribe called quest

A Tribe Called Quest on Final Album: ‘Doing This Album Killed Phife Dawg’

Tribe. Photo: Lester Cohen/Getty Images for ASCAP

On November 11, the final A Tribe Called Quest album will be in the hands of patient fans after an 18-year wait. But for the group, when that moment arrives, it’ll be bittersweet. In an interview with the New York Times, surviving members Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Jarobi White have shared new details about the album as well as the last days of Phife Dawg, who died in March of complications from diabetes while the album was nearing completion. It’ll be called We Got It From Here, Thank You for Your Service, a title Phife chose, and will feature Kendrick Lamar, André 3000, Elton John, Jack White, and, of course, Busta Rhymes. To make the album, Q-Tip says he, Phife, and the rest of the group had to first reconcile after years of bad blood, which required a lot of back-and-forth travel for Phife between his home in Oakland and Tip’s studio in New Jersey — a cross-country commute that only became more frequent once they started recording. (As a general rule, Tribe required all participants on the album to record in Tip’s home studio.)

For that reason, Jarobi thinks the rigors of making their last album may have contributed to Phife’s death. “Doing this album killed him,” he says. “And he was very happy to go out like that.” Phife had even been working on the album right up until his death. According to Q-Tip, the two spoke on the phone about a new song for an hour at 3 a.m. the night before Phife died, though Tip now says, in retrospect, he never realized how dire Phife’s health was: “I had no idea that his days was numbered. I just want to celebrate him, you know?”

A Tribe Called Quest Give Details on Final Album