A Tribe Called Quest Perform On SNL & Phife Dawg Looms Large (Video)
On one of the most highly-anticipated episodes of SNL in recent memory, A Tribe Called Quest joined host Dave Chappelle, as the show’s musical guests. It was the group’s first major television appearance since their performance on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon on November 13, 2015, in celebration of the 25th anniversary of their debut album, People’s Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm. As Q-Tip recently told the New York Times, that performance is what inspired the group to end their 18-year hiatus and record another album together. “The energy was right. It felt like we was those kids that had that big show in Paris when they were 19. It felt fresh. It felt exciting. It felt new. Plus, it was just good to be with my brothers after all of that time,” said Q-Tip.
Tonight’s performance was also the first since that new album, We Got It From Here…Thank You For Your Service, was released on Friday (November 11), and ATCQ played music from the LP for the first time, performing the politically-charged “We The People” and “The Space Program.” In addition to group members Q-Tip, Jarobi and Ali Shaheed Muhammad, they were joined by ATCQ extended family, Consequence and Busta Rhymes.
Of course, Tribe’s performance also was their first since the death of their co-member and friend, Phife Dawg. He was sorely missed, but his presence loomed large, as ATCQ rolled a huge painting of the 5ft Assassin as his verse played during “We The People,” and again during “The Space Program.”
This final chapter for A Tribe Called Quest could not come at a more fitting time. As the country is in turmoil due to the results of this week’s presidential election, Tribe’s symbolism is transcendent, showing the healing and thought-provoking effect great art can have on our culture. Eerily conscious of the moment, even before it happened, the group also explicitly addressed many of the issues we are facing, with the most political album in their catalog. Their performances were both a respite from the pain many have been feeling, and a reminder of the power of art to be a voice of the people.