Rest In Peace Phife Dawg – Dead at 45


Rest In Peace Phife Dawg – Dead at 45

Late on March 22nd, 2016 the Hip-Hop world lost another MC.  Malik Taylor, better known as Phife Dawg, was an influential rapper from A Tribe Called Quest, a passionate sports fan, as well as a member of the Zulu Nation. After years of struggling with diabetes, and even having a kidney transplant, it appears the rapper may have died from these health related issues, even though the cause of death is yet to be determined.


“The Five Foot Assassin” or simply – “The Five Footer,” had some of Tribe’s most memorable quotes:

A Tribe Called Quest “Electric Relaxation”

“I like ’em brown, yellow, Puerto Rican or Haitian
Name is Phife Dawg from the Zulu nation
Told you in the jam that we can get down
Now let’s knock the boots like the group H-town”

Phife released “Ventilation: Da LP” in 2000 and was his only solo effort to see the light of day.  In recent interviews he discussed the release of a full length album to serve as his “life story” and even release a snippet of a track he worked on with the legendary J Dilla entitled “Nutshell.”

A personal favorite from Phife Dawg / ATCQ is his contribution to “Bugging Out”

“Bugging Out” (Phife Dawg)

“Yo, microphone check one, two, what is this?
The five foot assassin with the roughneck business
I float like gravity, never had a cavity
Got more rhymes than the Winans got family
No need to sweat Arsenio to gain some type of fame
No shame in my game cause I’ll always be the same
Styles upon styles upon styles is what I have
You wanna diss the Phifer but you still don’t know the half
I sport New Balance sneakers to avoid a narrow path
Mess around with this you catch a size eight up your {ass}
I never half step cause I’m not a half stepper
Drink a lot of soda so they call me Dr. Pepper
Refuse to compete with BS competition
Your name ain’t Special Ed so won’t you seckle with the mission
I never walk the street thinking it’s all about me
Even though deep in my heart, it really could be
I just try my best to like go all out
Some might even say yo shorty black you’re buggin’ out”

From one of our staff writers Tom ->

“I keep wanting it to be exposed as an internet hoax.  I want to refresh my  browser and have it tell me that Phife is alive and well.  And as the day draws on, that’s getting increasingly less likely.
And so, reluctantly, here’s my Phife Dawg tribute piece.  I think the thing I feel worst about is that I had no intentions on writing a Phife article until after I learned that he’d passed away.  And I imagine that Phife is the member of Tribe that would have appreciated his own tribute piece the most.  I wish that I had written something about him when he was alive, because I think he’d have been really excited by it.  I feel like he’s had a career of being overshadowed.  He shone bright in A Tribe Called Quest, and there is no way Tribe exists or becomes as nearly as great without his contributions, but no one could really make a great argument for him shining brighter than Q-Tip.  His solo work was solid that never quite translated to commercial success.  Even his death wasn’t the most tragic thing that happened yesterday as yet another terrorist attack in Europe took the lives of at least 30 people.  So, Phife Dawg was overshadowed yet again.
Q-Tip was always the member in Tribe that I wanted to be, but Phife was the one that I identified with the most.  I admired the way he was not only self-effacing, but the way he would embrace his own self-effacing comments and turn them into points of pride.  He wasn’t short.  He was the Five Foot Assassin.  He didn’t just have diabetes, he was the Funky Diabetic.  He was unapologetic about who he was, but he was unapologetic with a sense of humor and not a chip on his shoulder.  It’s the sort of positivity and self-pride that Tribe and the Native Tongues were all about.  He was an avid sports fan so his verses were always littered with sports references, but the obscure sort of references that you could only make or pick up on if you actually followed sports.  He wasn’t flashy or materialistic.  He was honest.  I never met him in person, but I imagine that hanging out with him was an extension of his life on record.  That he wasn’t just an act, and that his words weren’t just some part of an entertaining rap persona.  That you could hag out with him and sit on a couch and watch a game and drink soda and have a conversation very similar to the ones he recorded to beats, only they would rhyme a little less.  And in that sense, he left little pieces of himself in every verse he recorded.  I wish he could have had more than 45 years, but I’m glad he existed and I’m glad he left us with those little pieces of himself to remember him by.”

Rest In Peace Phife Dawg.  Your music and legacy will live on.

  • DJ WorksHard

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