On Point: Remembering Phife Dawg

By Jaylin Paschal

Hip-hop scholar since being knee high to a duck/The height of Muggsy Bogues, complexion of a hockey puck.
— Phife Dawg, Steve Biko

One year ago today, the world lost Malik "Phife Dawg" Taylor, of legendary rap group A Tribe Called Quest. Later that same year, Tribe released Thank You For Your Service... We Got it From Here, which many critics hailed as one of the best rap albums of 2016. Phife's verses are scattered throughout the project, but his presence is felt in its entirety.

Phife's voice and flow is extremely identifiable. When the sound becomes bouncy and acrobatic, you know it's him. Jovial and lighthearted, dropping gems without taking himself too seriously. The five-foot-assassin was the perfect partner in crime to Q-Tip the Abstract, and the dynamic duo helped solidify Tribe's place in Hip Hop history.

To remember Phife, you must remember this historic role. Tribe was integral in pushing Hip Hop culture forward, moving comfortably in their own lane outside of sonic trends of the time. The influence of ATCQ moves beyond simply inspiring contemporary artists, and literally provides the foundation for some of the sounds many artists pursue. From Kendrick Lamar shouting out Phife at an overseas project to J. Cole sampling "Electric Relaxation" for his track "Forbidden Fruit," today's artists understand how important it is to pay homage to Phife and ATCQ. Today we can remember Phife not only by listening to his music, but by listening to the music his influence reached.


Jaylin PaschalComment