Exclusive - Q-Tip Extended Interview

November 17, 2016 - George Packer & Q-Tip 11/17/2016 Views: 30,569

Rapper Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest discusses the group's sixth and final album "We Got It From Here," which looks at the political exploitation of marginalized groups. (5:55)

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Please welcome Q-Tip!

-♪ -(cheering and applause)

Welcome to the show, sir.

-How's everything?-Oh, man, everything is amazing.

-Yeah? -Everything is amazingnow that you're here.

-Oh. Well, thank you. I'mglad... -Yeah. It's-it's so...

-I'm glad I was able to save theday. -It's so random and crazy,

but, like... So,in South Africa, our currency

-is called the rand.-Uh-huh.

And so we have denominations--one, two, three, four, five,

you know? So, we have one rand,two rand, three rand,

four rand, five rand. And mostpeople in South Africa thought

that you were singing thatit's a viv... five-rand thing.

-Right. -Yeah. We werejust like, "How does he know?"

We were like, "He knows."♪ It's a five-rand thing

♪ Five And when we'd buythings, we'd be like...

-♪ It's a five-rand thing -Hey. It's...

-it's the tribe, man. It'sthe tribe. Yes. -It's the tribe.

It's the tribe. Welcome to theshow. So welcome to the show.

-Um...-(cheering and applause)

-Let's-let's get straightinto it. -Yes, yes, yes.

On your track "We the People,"that we just saw a clip of,

uh, the chorus says,"All you black folks must go.

"All you Mexicans must go.

Muslims and gays,boy, we hate your ways."

How-how do we sing thaton the dance floor?

How does that...how does that go?

It goes, uh... ♪ Beans,greens, tomatoes, potatoes ♪


Um, but it's-it's a...it's a really political message

-that you have in this album.-Yeah. Yes.

-The question is why.-Um, because...

I mean, it's-it's for a verykind of convoluted reason.

But to try to,you know, simplify it

and give a summary of it,I mean, it's...

Like you just spoke withwith George before, um,

you know, you felt it brewingin this country.

You felt... in the underbelly,uh, that,

you know, there was disposable,

um, uh, people, if you would.

Um, people who may not

-add to the true economic gains,right? -Yeah.

And one of the things

that, you know,we have to remember is that

in this society, you know,capitalism

that the bottom lineis-is truly money, right?

And then you haveall of us as citizens--

here we are,we're coexisting...

Um, in order for someone

to truly capitalizeon the situation,

there has to be somethingthat's weak,

or there has to be some...something...

The tenetsof capitalization is that

there has to be somethingor someone

-that you take advantage of.-Yeah.

Or that you, uh, kind of expose,

and, you know...

-And exploit.-And exploit.

-Yeah.-You know?

Um, and I think that, you know,

it's a... it's a concept really

that we've been dealing withfor a while,

um, of cheap labor, you know?

And then, the epitaphsof, uh, you know,

true deep, you know, gut...

in-the-gut racism.

"I hate youbecause of your race."

Or "I hate you becauseof your sexual preference

-and orientation."-Yeah.

Or "I hate youbecause of your religion."

It's easy to float that

and to causethis kind of dissension

amongst all of us so thatthose who are...

the true aggregators of power

and who have the true interestof, like, high wealth,

um, can come inand subdue, you know,

uh, uh, the citizens,if you would.

-It's kind of... It...-Which works...

-It works really wellwhen you think about it. -Yeah.

I mean, that's what happensall over the world.

-Happened in South Africa.It... -Mm-hmm.

It's people coming inand saying,

"Your problemsare created by those people,

and your problemsare created by those people."

-Causing the confession, right?-And that's where it comes from.

And part of that is becausethere's a fear.

Like, if you lookat the electoral college, right?

Um, you know,if you think about it,

the history of the electoralcollege is

that it was brought aboutbecause

the powers that bedidn't really feel

that they could trustthe citizens

to elect their leaders.

-That they feltthey were uneducated... -Yup.

...didn't really understand, um,

the true landscape of politics

and where the country was goingand so on and so forth.

So, just to protect ourselves,

we'll havethis electoral college

You know what I mean?

And it sits in some sort of,you know, mystery shop.

So I felt,and we felt like in the group,

that we really wanted to, um,

try to pose the scenario,

rather than be heavy-handedand straightforward of it.

But within musicand within song and within art,

you know, we're able to kind ofpresent this tapestry,

if you would,that really shows the truth

that we're all kind ofjoined together, truly.

-Yeah.-That there really isn't, uh,

these divisions that's,you know, floated out there.

-You know?-I've never had anybody

who has one questionthat is the entire interview.


I won! I did it!

(applause and cheering)

-What do I get?-You won.

You get everything.

You get us downloadingthe album,

you get us listeningto the message.

I feel likewe could do this forever,

because you are an intense man,

-and the songsreally do carry that. -Yeah.

Uh, but, yeah,we'll do more of this.

And you got to come back.

-We should just do an entireepisode together. -(laughter)

We should.What do you...? Should we?

That's what we should do.

We should doa whole episode together.

-(applause and cheering)-But we got to cut this short.

We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service

is available now,and the full video

for "We The People"will premiere tonight

at 11:30 p.m. on Vevo.