On the bus this morning I was perusing my Instagram account and found out that we lost yet another immensely talented artist this year. Malik Taylor aka Phife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest has crossed over. A few things hit me hard with this one.
He was only 45. He was my age.
It’s never an easy thing when anyone passes away. However, when it’s someone who you’ve grown up watching and is around the same age as you – it hits home a bit harder for me. Yes, everyone’s walk of life is different. But when someone’s life is taken away at such a young age, when you know they had plans for so much more – it’s so disheartening.
He was part of a group who were pioneers of hip hop.
I am talking about A Tribe Called Quest y’all. One of the most influential hip hop groups ever. They brought us unforgettable joints that still and forever will blow up the spot like “Can I Kick It”, “Electric Relaxation” and the seminal “Scenario”. And I haven’t even touched on any of their epic greatness as yet. Their contribution to hip hop culture is as notable and then some as Stetsasonic on the jazz tip. Their infusion of jazz samples and “the boom bip, the boom bip” is what kept us on the dance floors and spitting lyrics on the Q-Tip and Phife flow. People who don’t even mess with hip hop all that tough know ATCQ and more than likely cannot even front about having all of their albums on vinyl, cassette, CD or mp3.
“A Tribe Called Quest consists of four members
Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Q-Tip and Jarobi
A E I O U And sometimes Y”
– “We Can Get Down” Interlude by A Tribe Called Quest
The naysayers will talk their ish.
Because there will always be those who talk shit and have nothing to contribute to the conversation. Believe it or not, I have seen a few people on the innerets adding their two cents with nothing worthy of a crumb to say. News to the ignorant – ATCQ has always been celebrated and praised individually and as a whole – for years. Boxsets, a documentary, articles, mixtapes, Best Of lists and more. Phife Dawg was a respected MC who doesn’t really need your condescending ignorance attempting to shadow his contributions to the genre of hip hop or his life for that matter. As my girl @MoreAndAgain stated, “What is wrong with people?”
“You’d be a fool to reply that Phife is not the man
Cause you know and I know that you know who I am”
– “Check The Rhyme” by A Tribe Called Quest
Even though the cause of death has yet to be announced, we are all well aware of Phife’s ongoing battle with diabetes and his kidney transplant in 2008. I vividly remember in the documentary Beats, Rhymes & Life when Phife spoke about being straight up addicted to sugar as a drug. That was so disturbing to me. He struggled like many of us in the community do on the daily. Diabetes, like any other disease, does not discriminate. And once it houses itself in a host, it eats the body up from the inside out. We in the black community are always quick to stay away from doctors, hospitals, regular check-ups etc., and are prone to suffer from a poor diet. All of the aforementioned factors contribute to complications down the line. Caribbean-Canadians and Americans are at high risk for diabetes. There is absolutely no reason that any of us should live a depreciated or compromised life. Get checked on the regular. Go to appointments. Have an ache? See a doctor. Try to get your diet in check. Do what you have to do in order to prolong your life on this here rotating sphere we call earth. I was trying to avoid the cliché, but on the real y’all – tomorrow is never promised.
“If you don’t know me by now, you’ll never know
Steppin on my critics, beatin on my foes
The plan is to stay focused, only then I can go
Straight from the heart, I represent hip hop
I be three albums deep, but I don’t wanna go pop”
-“We Can Get Down” by A Tribe Called Quest
One of my favs.
Rest in eternal peace Phife Dawg.