“Get It Together” by Beastie Boys featuring Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest is a distinctive fusion of hip-hop styles showcasing sharp and playful lyricism. The song rolls out in an infectious head-nod rhythm with a playful yet profound exploration of the artists’ lives, their experiences, and their journey. Beastie Boys and Q-Tip spit rhymes around classic hip-hop themes: wordplay, references to their roots, sex, humor and making their mark in the industry.
The song opens up with Beastie Boys laying down the gavel on the groove, using the line “One-two, one-two, keep it on.” This is a classic trope in hip-hop, signaling the start of a freestyle or lyrical tirade. The ‘Abstract’, a nickname for Q-Tip, meshes his unique style with the Beastie’s punky, party vibes. When he says “let me spawn on your eggs, then you go up the river”, he’s using oblique lingo for intimate relationships and the potential repercussions.
As the track moves forward, Ad-Rock mentions “I’ve got heart like John Starks.” Here, he’s referencing the former New York Knicks player known for his tenacity and determination, so by extension, Ad-Rock is stating his own commitment and drive in hip-hop. This verse is packed with sports and pop culture references, adding a layer of appreciation for those ‘in the know’.
The chorus is simple and yet straight to the point – “Get it together.” The line is a wake-up call – a challenge to straighten up and stay focused. This reflects the sentiment of the hip-hop community, whose ethos of pushing the envelope, growing, and evolving never wavers.
“‘Cause she’s the cheese and I’m the macaroni,” a line from MCA’s verse, uses the popular staple, mac and cheese, as an analogy for close and inseparable bonds. The line is whimsical and, in a broader sense, speaks to the Beastie Boys’ bond and connection with hip-hop itself.
In the second half of the song, Q-tip enters with lines that demonstrate his lyrical prowess, like “let me embark on the lyrics and the noun and the verb.” Here, Q-Tip speaks on how he breaks down and deconstructs language to create his rhymes, a testament to his skills as a rapper and lyricist.
As the song builds, Q-Tip uses the line “When the MC’s come in my face, I’m like mace.” He’s declaring that he’s no pushover, and when challenged, he strikes back in a way that stuns and disorients, much like mace.
Unwinding towards the end, Beastie Boys drop the lines “I eat the fuckin’ pineapple Now & Laters” and “technically I’m as hard as steel.” The first is a playful stab at their own shameless self-indulgence, while the latter is a declaration of toughness and resilience. These lines encapsulate Beastie Boys’ knack for mixing humour with braggadocio.
The song concludes with the repeated line “Ma Bell, got the ill communication.” Ma Bell was a popular nickname for the telecommunications giant AT&T, suggesting that the Beastie Boys and Q-Tip are at the forefront, the communicative propagators of their innovative brand of hip-hop.
Overall, “Get It Together” is a punchy, energetic journey through East Coast hip-hop landscape, with Q-Tip’s lyrical ingenuity complimenting Beastie Boys’ raucous energy. It’s a display of rap camaraderie and a testimony to hip-hop’s persistent push for uniqueness and evolution.