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A Tribe Called Quest’s significance has never faded since the boys from Queens first became a group in the mid-’80s. The world was once again reminded of their iconography when we lost Phife Dawg, the heart of the group, to diabetes-related complications in March 2016. The Apollo Theater memorial that took place that April showed how much the Phife and the Tribe were loved: Dave Chappelle, KRS-One, Andre 3000, D’Angelo, and Lauryn Hill were just a few of the many who came through to pay their respects.
And the adoration for A Tribe Called Quest hasn’t dimmed since then or after they returned with We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service, a comeback album 18 years in the making that doubled as a fantastic going away party for the 5-foot-assassin. You can debate about who is the most influential hip-hop group of all time, but there’s a big chance that we wouldn’t have OutKast, Kanye West, or Pharrell if it wasn’t for the Tribe.
The way Tribe wove their New Yorker perspective into sounds inspired by black music’s proud history is a core reason behind hip-hop heads’ love of the artform. Their first three albums, 1990’s People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, 1991’s The Low End Theory, and 1993’s Midnight Marauders still stand together as one of hip-hop’s great three-peats.
Still, We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service was good enough to produce songs that rank in the upper echelon of the Tribe’s already near-unassailable catalog. They’ve disbanded in 2017 supposedly for good, and “The Space Program” is their last music video, but they’re leaving with what many other great acts don’t get: a sense of closure. In honor of Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Phife Dawg, Jarobi, and Q-Tip, who turns 48 today, here are the best A Tribe Called Quest songs.