The episode finds Ebro going track for track with Tribe members Q-Tip and Jarobi White, breaking down their thoughts and sharing some exclusive insight on how the songs came together. As Q stated at the beginning of the interview, "The music will continue...We definitely have a ceiling, but what we leave behind is this stuff."
The trio got into specifics on what it was like to work with some of the major names on the project. The guests are not explicitly listed with each song, but "Solid Wall of Sound" features an insane combination of Busta Rhymes, Jack White, and Elton John. "It was great working with Elton," Q-Tip told Ebro. "He's just a blast and for him to be a part of this." He went onto describe how Elton dedicated a performance of "Candle in the Wind" the night he found out Phife passed. "First of all, he's royalty. Second of all, his appreciation for music—he knows his joints. Just to have him be a part of it was just a joy."
They also discussed Outkast's André 3000 showing up on "Kids..." on the album. "Andre is the homie. He and Big Boi. We gonna figure something out with that. But having André doing 'Kids,' you know. It was very collaborative," Q says of their collaboration. "He came through did the whole song, chorus, bars...It was great to do everything [in the studio.] It was great to do it like that because you gotta cook up together." "That energy in the room at the same time and people bumping heads and on the fly putting stuff together...That's where the magic is." Jarobi added.
As Q-Tip previously announced, this album will be the ATCQ's final album since Phife Dawg passed away earlier this year after a decades-long struggle with diabetes and "Melatonin" specifically addresses the issue of addiction. "You know Phife was addicted to sugar and we've all dealt with our own types of addictions," Q explained to Ebro. "People can be addicted to video games or working out. So, this song is just about the sensation that leads you to being addicted to things. I've been addicted to sex...I think the one thing about addiction is we have to voice...you can't be fearful." As Jarobi put it, "Deal withy our shit. You'll be better for it."
Another highlight of the new album is seeing Kendrick Lamar alongside Phife Dawg on "Conrad Tokyo," which held a special meaning for Jarobi. "Phife spazzes on this verse. It's a club in Tokyo and it was just about that. We thought it was so fly. Kendrick spitfires consistently. I love this song because Kendrick is an MC that people hold in really high regard. To have Phife's verse along with his verse, his pen can still go with anybody."
Jarobi probably summed the whole experience of the album up best by laying out how creating this album was just like creating the other Quest albums. "This [album] is really really similar because it was just us in the studio together banging out and creating from its infancy. Cracking the old jokes, having that same familiarity, the brotherhood, the camaraderie. Coming out of the vocal booth and watching Phife dancing. These guys interacting...For me, that was one of the most beautiful times. There were a lot of times I excused myself to watch these guys interact."
Before signing off, Q also took a moment to touch on the upcoming Nov. 19 event when a street in Queens named after Phife Dawg will be revealed. "It's a heavy moment. It's a dope month. It's a heavy month. there's a lot of contemplation about this year. We lost a lot of people this year from Prince to Bowie to Phife Dawg. We lost Muhammad Ali. We saw crazy election that went off in America and we received the most unlikeliest of dudes who's never held any sort of public office...This world we're in, there's energy happening. We need to be resolute as citizens, as people. We need to link arms with each other and take care of this planet, take care of ourselves, and really feel what's going on."
One of the highlights of the interview was also one of the most emotional as Q-Tip breaks down when thinking about Phife. "You hear the brother's voice, I hear his voice and it's like real talk," he started before audibly breaking into tears. "It's just wild because you know, not only was he like my first friend really, but we were able to build something together that we dreamt about as boys. Coming up in the neighborhood with Run and L and [Salt-N-Pepa's] Sheryl and Sandy...I tear up because I just wish physically that he was here...It's happy. It's bittersweet, definitely. I just wish my brother was here to enjoy these fruits."
The 16-track project just dropped and includes features from Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Elton John, André 3000, Jack White, and Busta Rhymes. As Q-Tip told the public previously, this album will be the ATCQ's final album since Phife Dawg passed away earlier this year after a decades-long struggle with diabetes.
The iconic group also covers the October/November issue of Complex in a special three-part feature. Part I features exclusive photos from Q-Tip's home recording studio, where much of the final album was recorded and produced. In the remaining two parts that are still on the way, Chief Content Officer Noah Callahan-Bever will reveal what it was like spending time with the group during their final days together. Part III will unveil a documentary that chronicles the making-of We Got It From Here.
Check out Ebro's full interview with A Tribe Called Quest below and be sure to read our Complex cover story, "Waves Don't Die: Behind The Making of A Tribe Called Quest's Curtain Call," right here. Don't miss the lyric video for album cut, "We the People...." that also debuted earlier.