This article originallt appeared on NME.
A Tribe Called Quest played their last ever show at Bestival, rounding off their 27-year career with a passionate run through hits and fan favourites and a moving tribute to their late bandmate Phife Dawg, who died from complications to do with his diabetes in March last year.
“A Tribe Called Quest, we suffered a blow,” rapper Q-Tip told the crowd, interrupting ‘Whateva Will Be’ midway through their 90 minute set, “we lost our boy Phife Dawg. This is gonna be our last show as A Tribe Called Quest, ever.” He then quoted lines from Phife Dawg’s verse on the track: “Say am I ‘posed to be dead or doin’ life in prison?/Just another dummy caught up in the system/Unruly hooligan who belongs in Spofford/Verse getting that degree at Stanford or Harvard”
The tribute came amid a powerful show which featured solo spots from Q-Tip, Consequence and Jarobi and climaxed with multiple runs through ‘We The People…’, with all three members out at the crowd barrier chanting the iconic chorus.
A Tribe Called Quest took the stage with the summery street groove of ‘The Space Program’ before kicking into ‘Oh My God’, with Phife Dawg’s verses added on backing track. The set reached a brisk early pace as Tribe ricocheted through tracks including ‘Dis Generation’ and ‘Excursions’, the latter dropping down to a minimalist beat over which the trio spat intimate rhymes. It was a technique they returned to on ‘Find A Way’, taking the track from a frenetic rap backed by visuals of chains and prison bars down to an almost hymn-like acapella closing.
Launching into ‘Whateva Will Be’ with a synchronised three-man wiggle, Tribe paused to pay tribute to Phife and announce their split, then raised the mood by Q-Tip leading a crowd chant of “we love A Tribe Called Quest’s music!” The trio then left the stage as a tape of Phife’s opening verse from ‘Butter’ played acapella.
Consequence then returned to the stage solo to perform his verse from Kanye West’s ‘Gone’, then Jarobi took a solo spot on his verse from ‘Moving Backwards’. Tribe reunited for a fast-moving run through ‘Sucka Nigga’, the dark and sinister ‘Phoney Rappers’, the jaunty ska vibes of ‘Black Smasmodic’ and ‘Steve Biko (Stir It Up)’.
The main set closed with chant-worthy tracks including ‘Buggin Out’, ‘Electric Relaxation’ and ‘Check The Rhime’, Q-Tip leaving the stage saying “27 years, thanks for all the support you’ve given us over the years. Phife Dawg!”
The encore opened with the DJ striking up the iconic bassline from ‘Can I Kick It?’, which the band ran through as footage of a much younger Tribe played out on the screen behind them. The set closed with a ferocious ‘Award Tour’ and ‘We The People…’, which Tribe played several times.