It hurts so much to write these words: we’re living in the post-Phife Dawg era. Ever since Malik Taylor passed away earlier this week, hip-hop just hasn’t felt the same, and as much as it pains the ATCQ founder’s fans, it’s likely nothing compared to what Q-Tip, Jarobi, Ali Shaheed, and all their friends and family are feeling. At this point, music is the best–and perhaps only–means of respite from grief. And right on schedule, Q-Tip’s Abstract Radio was live on the digital airwaves Friday night, paying tribute to the hip-hop pioneer, dope MC, funky diabetic, diehard NY Knicks loyalist, five foot assassin, our friend and brother Phife.
Q-Tip opened up his personal archive of tribe rarities and live performances for the set, and started things off proper with Phife’s brilliant verse on “Oh My God” before blending it in to a live rendition. From there he kept things fiercely funky with, of course, an emphasis on Phife’s wordplay. Blended into it all were recorded drops from music legends. We’ve listed a few below for you.
“The world lost Phife, but Phife himself actually gained the universe. He is now with the master, entrenched and enmeshed in the best chords…in heaven” — Pharrell Williams
“Rest in peace, rest in power to the big homie Phife Dawg. you will be sorely, sorely missed by myself and countless others. You’re an icon you’re an influence you’re and inspiration and your present on this plane..gonna miss having you here bor. See you on the other side.” — Just Blaze
“Rest in peace to the soldier Phife Dawg, the five foot assassin. Yo he was a brother, you will be missed from me personally as well as hip-hop itself. God Bless.” — DJ Alamo
“A tribe called quest is everything. Everything to me. There will not be no Outkast without.. A Tribe Called Quest was everything to me in high school, just listening to Q-tip run the verses. And I remember being really interested in vocabulary. He actually made me want to know more about words and use them as tools. Like, words that you may have not even know before. He made it actually cool to use those words. There was a point where I was listening to Tribe in High School and there was a point where a lyric–Tip was saying “Like getting stomach aches when ya gotta go to work / Or staring into space when you’re feeling berserk / I don’t really mind if it’s over your head / Cuz the job of resurrectors is to wake up the dead / So pay attention, it’s not hard to decipher / And after the horns, you can check out the Phifer”
When he said that, I knew what kind of rapper I wanted to be. It was clear, because what had just happened was he was describing what I was going through at the time in High School,and like woah–‘So this is what it’s about. It’s about just telling what you’re going through.’ It’s like ‘I’m here, I want to express myself and this is what I want to say.’ It was a reality happening in a whole ‘nother way. You don’t have to necessarily be shooting somebody up for it be reality. You can just be a man going to work and feeling a way.
I remember me and Big Boi were out trying to get a deal and become Outkast, we went through a few managers and producers to come up and be something, and our last stop on the trip was to see Organized Noize. We went up to his job and we went out to his car…he actually pulled out A Tribe Called Quest cassette…and that’s what we used to rhyme over. So when we met Organized Noize, that was our first demo off what we could do. We just let the tape go and just rapped, no choruses or nothing. We were just rapping rapping rapping rapping in the parking lot. It’s so crazy that Tribe was so integral in what we’re doing and what we are and anted to be. We’d sit around and listen to it and feel special. A lot of kids in our high school weren’t listening to Tribe. Even though they were on TV it was like a prejudice kind of thing..some people in our HS felt like we were the weirdos cause we listened to Tribe and De La and puba. Yeah it was like ‘it’s us….’ I think everything they presented to use, form the visuals to the sound which, to this day, man there’s no one greater than Tribe, period. We can have all the discussions you want to, it don’t matter.” — Andre 3000
“They were one of the primary reasons we started Outkast. They were our idols back in the day…Phife actually came by the studio a little while ago and just kind of vibed out…a great person. He’ll definitely be missed by the world, and definitely myself and my family. Prayers and blessings.” — Big Boi
“Checking in for the late great, the legendary Phife Dawg. Me being one of the new cats, all I can remember is either listening to gangster rap or Low End Theory. So it’s only right that i pay homage to Phife and Tribe…If i go back to being five, size years old, I remember being acquainted with the legendary, and it was a record by the name of “Scenario”. The flow was crazy, the beat was crazy, but one line stuck out ot me in particular the..the line in particular: “I’m all that and then some short dark and handsome / Bust a nut inside your eye, to show you where I come from”
I just thought that line was witty at the time you feel me being a kid as six years old…I’m short myself so I was rocking that way…Being witty and crafty as possible, and that’s exactly what he did with that line. There’s many many many more but that was my first time ever being excited hearing Phife…much love to him and his family…everything that you’ve done for the culture everything that you’ve done for hip hop we will always hold it down for Phife.” — Kendrick Lamar
“Full-out salute to my brother Phife. Little brother Phife Dawg, a hip-hop rap world warrior. He lived and breathed hip-hop. The man’s a social narrator along with the world-legendary all-time A Tribe Called Quest. What aa team along with Q-Tip, along with Ali Shaheed Muhammad, along with Jarobi. Team player in the game and really from Queens, these kings. Even had the first lady salute as well. Shout out to my man Phife, the warrior. Peace. A Tribe Called Quest forever.” — Chuck D
As for the tracks Q-Tip played? “Electric Relaxation,” “The Jazz,” “Luck of Lucien,” “Mr. Muhammad,” “Check the Rhime,” “Award Tour”…you know the score. Check out a full playlist of the two-hour radio session here. Rest in power, rest in beats, rest in rhymes, rest in peace…Phife.