After a 15-year break from recording together, can A Tribe Called Quest kick it again? Fresh from playing a gig with Prince at SXSW, the group’s members may be crossing paths in the studio; Q-Tip tells Rolling Stone he expects to sprinkle his first album in five years with individual cameos from Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi White.
“I’ll probably get them on my album,” Q-Tip said Monday during the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding’s Young Leadership Benefit in New York, where he’s recording the LP. Entitled The Last Zulu and slated for release next spring on G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam, the album would be the first to feature the original foursome in some fashion since 1990’s People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm.
Despite the plans for an in-studio collaboration, Q-Tip pointed out that Tribe’s current focus is on touring. “We love performing. There’s a lot of places around the world that we’ve yet to hit, believe it or not,” he said, adding that the group will play a couple of European dates in summer. “We’re probably gonna just concentrate on the rest of the world. We’ve kind of played America.”
The news provides encouragement for Tribe fans uncertain of the group’s future after they disbanded in 1998. Michael Rapaport’s 2011 documentary, Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest, documented moments of tension between members as they reunited for Rock the Bells festival performances 10 years after their split.
Russell Simmons, who co-chairs the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and hosted the event at his home, also enthused over Q-Tip’s new material. “He writes more inspiring stuff now. You travel, you learn,” Simmons told Rolling Stone. “And he’s actually been around the world a number of times and he’s pretty accomplished, and he’s got a lot more to say than he said when he was a kid, obviously.”
Asked how he reflects on the forthcoming 20th anniversary of Tribe’s 1993 album, Midnight Marauders, Q-Tip laughed. “I don’t know, it’s cool. I don’t really listen to my work. If I have to DJ and I play something, I hear it. But I don’t sit quietly and listen to my work; I’m always off to do the next thing.”