Peace fam! I hope you all are well. Yesterday was a day of emotional tumult. On the one hand, I got to celebrate the 6th bEarthday of my son Bryson (Hooray!) and on the other, I learned that one of the members of my all-time favorite groups transitioned from the physical.
Malik Taylor, better known as Phife Dawg, transitioned on the night of March 22, 2016. He was a member of A Tribe Called Quest. As I sat on my couch yesterday, listening to “ Electric Relaxation”, tears began to fall down my cheeks. Tribe is more than a group to me, they are the soundtrack of my youth. And to think that one of the voices of my past is no longer going to bless the mic, is heartbreaking to me.
My earliest memory of A Tribe Called Quest is watching their video “Check the Rhime” on Yo MTV Raps!. As I watched the Phife and Q-Tip dance verbally rocking baseball jerseys and fitted caps, I must admit I was captivated. I love the easy flow of Tip and the raw lyricism of Phife. I knew that I had to get their album and shortly after seeing the video, I went and bought “The Low End Theory”. My love for hip hop is known well by those that know me personally.
Over the years, I have kept Tribe close to my heart; their songs reminiscent of times of wearing colorful Filas with the straps, Major Damage, of overalls and ponytails, of block parties and secret sips of beer, of buying looseys at the corner store, of days spent sitting on the stoop with the homies. I even call my children The Tribe. Most people think I say that because there are 6 of them but, I call them The Tribe as an ode to my guys. I even named my oldest son Malik after Phife (smile).
Phife Dawg will always hold a special place in my memories and my heart. And though his spirit lives as well as his music, I cannot lie and say that his passing is not hurtful to so many, including me. I am forever grateful for his life, his talent, and his spirit. Let me end with words from the man himself “Put one up for the Phifer, it’s time to decipher/The ills of the world make the situation lighter.”
Ashaki Ali Kenyatta
The Tru Lioness
(Photo cred: Rolling Stone magazine)