It was only a little over two weeks ago that Phife Dawg, aka Malik Izaak Taylor, aka the Five-Foot Assassin passed away from diabetic complications. In the time since he passed, Nutshell, a track featuring a beat from J Dilla from his would-be next album Give Thanks, was released, and the majority of the hip-hop community has come out to share words on the late great.
A tribute held at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem went down today, with Busta Rhymes, Kanye West, The Roots, D’Angelo, André 3000, Chuck D, Consequence, KRS-One and A Tribe Called Quest all paying respect among family and friends. There were a number of performances, including D’Angelo and the Roots together with You’ve Got A Friend, and video messages from a number of NBA players old and new. Kanye swapped words with Dave Chappelle who was sitting in the audience, and claimed that “Anything I ever did wrong, blame Tip and Phife because y’all raised me.” Busta Rhymes came to tears talking about Phife’s influence on him, and “[thanked] my man Malik Taylor, Phife Dawg, the Five-Foot Assassin, for being the big brother I needed when I was at a crossroads in my life,” André 3000 divulged plans between Outkast and A Tribe Called Quest to collaborate on an album, among many other things said. Check a loop of the tribute below:
A video posted by @memewilliams on Apr 5, 2016 at 5:37pm PDT
A video posted by EDUARDO DONOSO (@e.donosonyc) on Apr 5, 2016 at 5:25pm PDT
A video posted by Lyric Jones (@lyricjones) on Apr 5, 2016 at 5:58pm PDT
For a man who had such an impact on music, on the creation of a genre, and the careers of so many, no doubt the tributes will continue. At age 45, Phife, the self-proclaimed ‘funky diabetic’, was taken far too quickly – but the feeling of the tribute, and general sentiments following his passing, are that it was better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. We are better for having known him, and he lives on in, in his impact, and of course his music.
Check out our flashback to A Tribe Called Quest’s Low End Theory here.