Rest in peace, Malik Isaac “Phife Dawg” Taylor
It’s been a hard week for hip-hop after the tragic death of Malik Isaac Taylor aka Phife Dawg aka The Five Footer. Hours after the founding member of A Tribe Called Quest succumbed to dire complications from diabetes, social media erupted with somber messages from the hip-hop community and loyal fans of Phife Dawg.
May Phife dawg rest in peace and blessings to his family..
— g -host (@therealstylesp) March 23, 2016
R.I.P. PHIFE DOG! I had so many great experiences with this man…he will be missed. https://t.co/MZKby9DGPD
— Lord Jamar (@lordjamar) March 23, 2016
Omg .. Man RIP to Phife very good man
— Wale (@Wale) March 23, 2016
Throughout the music industry and the sports world, various artists, media outlets, athletes, and sportscasters paid homage to the fallen member of A Tribe Called Quest (including myself, which you can read here). After hearing about the terrible news in between his set, Kendrick Lamar saluted Phife with an exhilarating tribute during his show in Syndey, Australia along with help from the crowd.
Over the weekend, in lieu of his regularly scheduled program on Beats 1, Q-Tip dedicated his new episode of “The Abstract Show” to Phife with a 2-hour mix of live and rare Tribe recordings from Tip’s personal stash. Throughout the show, Outkast, Public Enemy’s Chuck D, Kendrick Lamar and Run The Jewels’ El-P called in to reflect on Phife’s life and what his career means to them.
“A Tribe Called Quest is everything to me,” Andre 3000 says at the 32-minute mark. “There would not be no Outkast without…well, if there was an Outkast, it would be something completely different.”
El-P also spoke about Phife’s passing during his own WRTJ Beats 1 Radio show with Killer Mike. Both rappers discuss Phife’s impact on hip-hop and their careers.
“I remember cutting school to sneak to an Emory University concert to see you guys perform,” Killer Mike said during his intro. “Phife set it off. He made us proud to be Georgia Tech fans because he wore their jersey, to be Atlanta Braves fans because he wore their hats. He is responsible for the style and grace and the bop of the ’90s. When you saw these hood kids running around preppy. His rhymes were clever and on point. He loved sports and music in the same way that me and so many of my friends did. He is, not was, is a constant inspiration to me for just how to be a cool motherfucker and drop dope-ass rhymes. And how to be the best presentation of what a group of people who don’t rap with each other’s style should be. You guys were on the shortlist of people we wanted to emulate as a group along with EPMD, along with OutKast, 8Ball & MJG, UGK. There’s Tribe. We want to uphold what it means to be a dope Rap group.”
Rappers aren’t the only ones in mourning over Phife’s death. Athletes like Kobe Bryant and the New York Jets also paid homage to the Five Foot Freak this week. In a post-game interview, Bryant expressed his condolences and explained how imperative Phife and ATCQ is to hip-hop. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt and Sports Net’s “Tim & Sid” crafted creative tributes to pay homage.
While some artists have dropped sonic tributes to Phife like Wiz Khalifa, close friends of Taylor like Talib Kweli and Busta Rhymes made more personal reflections and opened up about how Phife impacted their lives.
“Phife Dawg was authenticity in the flesh,” Kweli said in his essay for Billboard. “Loyal to a fault and fiercely protective of this culture we call hip-hop, Phife embodies the very best of us. The Trini gladiator, the anti-hesitator — Phife will forever be a part of the reason for the music I love and make a living from. And for that, I owe him the world.”
I had to spend the last 2 days going thru a lot of honest thoughts and emotions b 4 I spoke because this one hurts soooo fucking much. I can't begin to explain what @iamthephifer and @qtiptheabstract and @jarobiwhite and @alishaheed means to me and how much they have done for my life. These guys are my big brothers, my friends, and the dudes that always protected me frm the bullshit that came with life both personally and professionally in a way that only big brothers can do it. If u look at this picture closely, on the night of one of my my most magical moments in my 25 year journey in music DEC.5th 2015, I was able to have a dream come true in a way that it never had and that was to perform What's the scenario (original and the rmx) for the 1st time ever back to back with all of the original members of Leaders of the New School and A Tribe Called Quest since we recorded these songs in 1991 & 1992. That night was so magical with all of the love that was under one roof that it's too much to get into the details of but again please take another look at this picture, if u notice @iamthephifer had his hand on my back consoling me as I kneeled down to give thanks crying tears of joy because of how proud of a moment that was for me being able to end a 4 hour set with brothers who put me in a position where I was able to tell my mother she will not have to work for anyone over 20 yrs ago. The belief that they had in me puttin' me and Leaders on that record, putting me last on the record because back then being last on the record meant EVERYTHING, I had no idea at that time what they were setting me up in life to be but thru out the years it was so consistent their love and concern for my well being that it was no way I couldn't see it. Ever since that concert I have had the opportunity to spend time with Phife way more than I have been able to in over 10yrs. I've known this man for over 28yrs and I think I've seen him in the last 4 months the happiest that I've seen him in a very long time. It was apparent that every wish that he had was coming true and I can honestly say that I was witnessing the anointing frm a bird's eye view 1st hand. Until we meet again King, RIP
Although his ATCQ brethren released a joint statement, Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Jarobi White have yet to release individual statements about their member and life-long friend. For now, we’ll take Jarobi’s advice and simply cherish his life and keep his spirit alive.
Don't mourn him. Celebrate him. He's not gone.
— Jarobi White (@JarobiWhite) March 26, 2016
Photo Credit: VIBE