Brow Beat

A Tribe Called Quest Showed the Grammys How Political Statements Are Done

In the most powerful performance of a night full of powerful performances, A Tribe Called Quest was joined by Anderson Paak, Consequence, and Busta Rhymes on the Grammys stage for a performance that was at once a highlight from their Grammy-nominated new album, a tribute to dearly departed member Phife Dawg, and a gesture of resistance aimed directly at President Donald J. Trump.

Busta directly saluted Trump as “President Agent Orange” before “congratulating” him on his unsuccessful Muslim ban (a subject that’s very personal to Tribe members Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad, who are both Muslim). Integrated seamlessly into the performance of their song “We the People”—itself a fierce denunciation of fear and intolerance—the performance made for the kind of genuinely moving political statement that awards shows all too rarely provide, as the group used their platform to bring Muslims onstage as a visible reminder of the very real victims of these actions. And while brief statements of unity were sprinkled throughout the evening, the song’s devastating hook (written in the voice of a very Trump-esque hatemonger) brought all these messages together:

All you black folks, you must go
All you Mexicans, you must go
And all you poor folks, you must go
Muslims and gays, boy, we hate your ways
So all you bad folks, you must go

The final word of the performance, delivered with black-power salutes in the air, surely would have made Phife Dawg proud: “Resist.”

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