A Tribe Called Quest Secretly Recorded An Album That Is About To Be Released
Almost 16 years ago, A Tribe Called Quest released its fifth album, The Love Movement. A Top 3 debut, the album arrived to the public following word from the group that it would be their last. In addition to frustrations with the act’s lifelong label, Jive Records, Q-Tip publicly spoke about a growing creative rift between him and Phife Dawg—which was later chronicled in documentary Beats, Rhymes, and Life. That September, 1998 LP would earn a gold plaque, though never to be followed up.
In the time that has passed, Jive Records was absorbed by Epic Records, each A.T.C.Q. member released solo and side albums. Founding member Jarobi also would reunite with his band-mates on a number of tours and public appearances. Nothing more significant would transpire, however, than the March 22 death of Phife Dawg.
Unknown to the public, before Phife’s death from kidney failure, he, Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Jarobi had recorded a sixth album as A Tribe Called Quest.
Epic Records Chairman and CEO L.A. Reid confirmed the album’s existence in a conversation with the Rap Radar Podcast. At the 14:00 mark, when asked about the status of OutKast, Reid shifted the discussion to another Hip-Hop group thought to be permanently on hiatus. “You know what I’m excited about though? A Tribe Called Quest. [Epic Records] has A Tribe Called Quest album coming.” Asked if the release is a compilation of unused material, L.A. clarified, “It’s an album that [the members] recorded before Phife [Dawg] passed away. I’m really happy about it, man. It’s really something special. It’s one of the things I’m most excited about out of everything we’re working on.”
While Reid was not at Jive during the 1990s, Epic now is responsible for that label’s artists. The high-profile executive touched upon his close bond with Q-Tip. When Reid was CEO at Arista Records in 2000, Q-Tip was a label star, thanks to his 1999 gold-certified solo debut, Amplified.
“[Q-Tip and I have] a long relationship. Q-Tip’s a real friend, man. We didn’t hang out, take pictures, and act Hollywood, but he’s a friend. He’s made some incredible music and I love it.” As far as Tribe’s yet-to-be-titled next album, L.A. Reid confirmed complete participation. “Phife is there [on the album]—the whole group: Jarobi, the entire group, everybody. It’s great too.” Reid promised that this album would not become another tease without delivery. “It’s coming very soon, it’ll be [A Tribe Called Quest’s] first album in 18 years.”
Elsewhere in the conversation with Elliott Wilson and Brian “B.Dot” Miller, (5:30) Reid also discussed his longtime ties to DJ Khaled. “I asked him to lead Def Jam South. He was very helpful with us then. We stayed in touch.” Khaled’s Epic Records debut, Major Key, earned him a #1. Reid spoke about the Miami, Florida-based DJ’s white-hot rise thanks to Snapchat.