Those that have been exposed and connected to hip hop at it’s soul were hit with extremely painful news today. The love runs deep for hip hop and the highly influential crew, A Tribe Called Quest. It is with a heavy heart that I write that it has been confirmed that Phife Dawg, of the crew including Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi White has passed at the young age of 45.
There has been no word as to how he passed yet. DJ Chuck Chillout announced his death on twitter and since there has been a slew of condolences and sadness through the mass of social media. Statik Selektah, Aesop Rock, Sol, Rakaa, Nottz, Freddie Gibbs, Immortal Technique, Mega Ran, Rapsody, Rapper Big Pooh, and Chuck D were a few of the many to express their shock at losing the legend.
Those of us that grew up and were shaped as individuals by the sound and clever cadence and delivery of the poetic lyricism that was A Tribe Called Quest, understand what a loss this is to Hip Hop and the world. The resurgence of nostalgic admiration for 90’s fashion and music has introduced a younger generation to Tribe’s progressive, intellectual lyrics and style as well. For many it has been a refreshing change from the ever-present factory packaged bubble gum rap that has been produced in mass as of late. A Tribe Called Quest is timeless, Tribe changed lives, Tribe created intellectual conversation, Tribe is the perfect example of the heart of the hip hop culture.
For now we can only speculate about what happened but Phife Dawg or Malik Isaac Taylor has struggled with type-1 diabetes since 1990. Being referred to as the “funky diabetic” in the crew’s song “Oh My Gawd” from Tribe’s third album Midnight Marauders, was more than just clever lyricism, it was his life until death.
As a fan of hip hop when someone like this passes, someone who played such a crucial role in the person that you have become it’s a true mourning, in such a genuine, substantial capacity. That being said, here at Earthlings Entertainment our hearts go out to Phife’s family and friends, peace of heart and power of mind to you all.
I think that the one thing that we all can take from this is an incredible lesson, once more, to appreciate those around us and those that have impacted our lives without ever knowing. Too many of hip hop’s most creative and influential icons have passed without their dues being paid back to them, until their passing. Rapper Big Pooh retweeted a tweet that I could not agree with more, “Please… give them their roses while they can still smell them. The legends walk among us everyday. Don’t take that for granted. Appreciate their classics but many are still working and need our support in 2016.” Phife continues to illuminate hip hop, it’s importance, and his fellow emcees even after death. We appreciate you, this isn’t goodbye. Salute to a legend because legends never die.
“Rapping is an art, coming straight from the heart, so forget the charts, because the action can start” – Phife Dawg, Hot Sex