The world is still grieving after the sudden and devastating death of Phife Dawg. The five foot assassin was one of the most influential figures in hip-hop, and provided so much inspiration to so many people around the world, many artists who we now revere today included. Tributes continue to flow to honour his legacy, and whilst words don’t quite do it justice, they do serve as a way we can remember him as the incomparable, incredible artist that he was.
As revealed on DJBooth recently, a lost interview from 2001 with the man himself has now come to light. Providing a glimpse into not only the state of his promising solo career which he had just embarked on, but also insights into the demise of his group, A Tribe Called Quest and his thoughts on the then-state of hip-hop, it’s a must-read for any Phife fan.
On his solo endeavour (which had recently been released just prior to this interview), Phife spoke about the change in dynamic and how he then only had himself to answer to. He goes onto say that the ideas he worked on for his solo album were in his mind for a long time, but that he had to “chill” as “I wasn’t only representing myself, I was representing 2 other individuals so I always had to hold back on certain things and represent what Tribe was all about.”
“Now that I was on a solo mission, it was all about me, so I put my best foot forward and did what I had to do. It was a little bit difficult of course because you didn’t have the other 2 around to like really conversate on what should go down and what shouldn’t, but at the same time we were a veteran group so it was about that time for me to do my own thing anyway. I think it came at the right time. It just didn’t work out the way I wanted it to.”
Not working out the way he wanted to was also discussed, as Phife previously mentioned before this question that he was not happy with how the release of his album went. “I was happy with it as far as what we achieved in the studio and what we put together, but as far as the marketing and distribution, no I wasn’t happy at all, and it wasn’t the labels fault it was actually the distributors,” citing that the distributors only distributed the record to “40% of the markets.”
“It did well for the markets that it was in but it could have done better and I felt like it was a waste a time basically, and I hate working my tail off and it goes in vain.”
Phife went onto imply that their label at the time, Jive, was part of the reason the group broke up. Saying that the label were “embracing the Backstreet Boys thing and the N’Sync and Brittany Spears thing,” he detailed the tension that stemmed from this. When asked if Jive was the reason for the break, he replied, “Jive is one reason, and at the same time being together for ten years is a very long time. We needed a break so to speak, so we could go off and venture into different things, but it didn’t have to go down the way that it did.”
The interview then delves into the “political bullshit” of the break up, as well as their last album, The Love Movement and Phife’s involvement in it (or lack there of). It’s a very interesting read, and you can see it for yourself here.