“The key is to go out there and handle your business at all times,” said Phife Dawg to REVOLT back in October 2013 on what happened to be a bittersweet night in Brooklyn.
It was on this night, the funky foursome of Phife, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Jarobi White and Q-Tip reunited as A Tribe Called Quest, performing what was billed as their last concert as a group at BK’s Barclays Center. Despite the solemness of the evening, the legendary rap group's legacy bursted from the speakers to the people and reiterated a line Phife would eventually mention in the same interview: “Regardless if it's our first, our last, reunion or whatever, we gotta smash it.”
Never a half stepper, an originator behind the rhythm recipe you savor, and undisputed Five Foot Assassin, Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor was, is, and forever will be a rap superhero, who smashed almost every odds weighed against him. So it brought great sadness when the
music world woke up this morning (March 23) to a reality without the ATCQ rapper. He was 45.
As told time and time again, Phife formed A Tribe Called Quest after joining Murry Bergtraum High School in the late 1980s with fellow alums Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed, and Jarobi. By 1990, the group had released their gold-selling debut People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, quickly earning praise for its jazzy instrumentation and gems like "Bonita Applebum" and "Luck of Lucien" (among a collection of others). On the former, Q-Tip stood out as the very renaissance man he would later claim on his sophomore solo album, all the while Phife played the Robin to his Batman. In about a year's time, all of this would change, starting with 1991's The Low End Theory and well, beyond.
Hit play on "Butter" and get a whiff of his Alexander O'Neal glow, or understand his punchline prowess on "Electric Relaxation," with every album Phife got stronger and sharper — a testament to his will made out of teflon and rhymes harder than last night's erection.
What The Beatles are to popular music, Tribe Called Quest is the chiseled parallel on rap's Mount Rushmore. They left an entire world in awe and offered ultra light beams (word to Kanye) for generations who stand united in the words: "Tribe Called Quest is the reason I..." So it goes without saying what kind of gravity Phife's loss leaves on music, which is exemplified by the many tributes that have poured from just about all walks of life — a testament to Phife and ATCQ's influence.
Phife-HipHop & Rap word Warrior, simple as that.Breathed it & lined rhyme into Sport.A true fire Social Narrator my bro #RIBeats ATCQforever— Chuck D (@MrChuckD) March 23, 2016
A pioneer of hip hop has left us. Rest in peace, Phife— Elijah Wood (@elijahwood) March 23, 2016
I remember when we had our GT run in the tournament March Madness 1990 came back to queens and saw everyone wearing GT hats #PhifeDawg— Kenny Anderson (@chibbs_1) March 23, 2016
YO! Microphone check 1, 2 what is this?????!!— Zane Lowe (@zanelowe) March 23, 2016
Huge loss today. A legend. A NY hip-hop originator. #RIPPhifeDawg Sending love to his close friends and fam. Today we are all in the Tribe.— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) March 23, 2016
Phife was like family to us. He's from The first hip-hop group that inspired musicians. Love to his family . pic.twitter.com/KgsvdlHKPd— MintCondition (@mcondition) March 23, 2016
A friend of mine has passed too soon. Phife - you will be missed. Always enjoyed talking hoops w you. RIP.— Kevin Pritchard (@PacersKev) March 23, 2016
"your whole appearance is a lie and it could never be true and if you really loved yourself then you would try and be you.” rip phife dawg— Blake Griffin (@blakegriffin23) March 23, 2016
"MICROPHONE CHECK 1 2 WHAT IS THIS..."— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) March 23, 2016
RIP Phife Dawg, who taught us the only way to rock the mic is to be unapologetically yourself
"microphone check 1-2, what is this?" "back in '89 i simply slid in the place" "i like em brown yellow puerto rican or haitian" PHIFE 4EVER— Mark Ronson (@MarkRonson) March 23, 2016
...PHIFE has some of the most classic opening verse lines in all of hip hop— Mark Ronson (@MarkRonson) March 23, 2016
Phife, your rhymes, your tone, your delivery- one of a kind there will never be another Rest easy and thank you for the legacy ❤️ ❤️— Elle Varner ⚡️ (@ellevarner) March 23, 2016
I like brown ,yellow Puerto Rican or Haitian name is phife dog from the Zulu nation. Rip Phife pic.twitter.com/rSy8pSKnxC— Chris Rock (@chrisrock) March 23, 2016
Nooooo just walked off a plane to that news. No not Phife!! 5 foot assasin!! RIP. Thankyou for the soundtrack to my life— Benji B (@TheRealBenjiB) March 23, 2016
Hard to think of records that I have listened to more. Hard to think of a better combination of vocal tones than Tip & Phife. Eternal Thanks— Benji B (@TheRealBenjiB) March 23, 2016
This is that. Like...this happened to my dumbass. Me & Phife. pic.twitter.com/UPeHkbrL0y— Scott Van Pelt (@notthefakeSVP) March 23, 2016