The world has lost the 5 foot assassin.
It is with tears in my eyes that I report that Malik Issac Taylor, better known as Phife Dawg, member of 90’s Alternative Hip-Hop group A Tribe Called Quest, passed away Tuesday night at the age of 45. This news is heavy, not only for the world of hip-hop, but for me personally. It wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I dove into the world of hip-hop culture, listening to mainly rock and metal since middle school. Even once I started listening to rap, it wasn’t until I heard the Tribe record Midnight Marauders, fully absorbing the smooth drums and powerful lyrics, that I knew hip-hop was to be my lifeblood, a part of me that I could never escape. If it wasn’t for Tribe, I would most definitely not be the man I am today. I couldn’t be more grateful for opening the door for me into the art of Hip-Hop and given me a passion that’ll live with me for the the rest of my life.
Many fans of golden era Hip-Hop will attest everything that Tribe and Phife brought to the game, with Phife’s style of lyricism almost unheard of at the time, like his line from the banger Scenario, “Bust a nut inside your eye, to show you where I come from.” Perhaps Phife’s most standout performance is his opening verse on the 1991 Tribe track Buggin’ Out, kicking in your eardrum with the iconic, “Yo, microphone check 1, 2, what is this?”. It’s extremely evident that Tribe helped shape the face the game, offering something fresh in an era where gangster rap was king. Phife will go down in history as a pioneer and legend of Hip-Hop for years to come.