Rip Phife Dawg
When I woke up that morning to find out that Phife had passed, I felt like a dear friend had been taken away from me. It’s been four days since the passing of Malik Taylor and I am finally comfortable enough to play Tribe. I tried to write something as fast as I could but I just found myself extremely discouraged and refused to listen to the group out of denial-something I’ve never done before.
A Tribe Called Quest has been marauding my ears since ’94. The first sounds we hear as babies are the low end of sounds from the outside world and our mother’s heartbeat. It was somewhat poetic that The Low End Theory was the first real time I fell in love with music. I hadn’t realized it in the moment but I had started a relationship that would last forever. At first it was just an attraction from afar and I hadn’t really known their name. That was the state of things until I matched face to name on the Thrasher: Skate and Destroy soundtrack (one of the best skating soundtracks of all time, sorry Tony Hawk). Soon after, I would be skating to ATCQ in the real world as I was completely taken with smooth basslines and golden era flows.
They say you really start to forget a person when you forget their voice but I know this will never happen with Phife. The uncanny notion about legends dying is that they have already been immortalized before they actually pass. Phife established himself as a legend to me with everything he did on record. A student at heart, one of my favorite aspects of Phife was his ability to teach. “You see my aura’s positive, I don’t’ promote no junk,” was so straightforward in delivery, yet a line you can always muse on. From smooth wordplay to intricate lessons about the actuality of the world, Tribe taught me everything. They taught me how to listen for basslines. They taught me how to feel music in my soul rather than just listen to it. They told me how to be smooth and be myself. My roots are embedded in the Zulu Nation’s frontmen.
“You see my aura’s positive, I don’t’ promote no junk.”
Phife was short but he taught me how to stand tall. He was always on point and will be all throughout time.