Malik Isaac Taylor a.k.a. Phife Dawg (1970 – 2016) (audio)
Sadly, I have to do this again for the third time to do this year. Yesterday on my way to work, I found out about the truly saddening news that Phife Dawg, part of the legendary A Tribe Called Quest crew, had passed. While Q-Tip is equally great in his own right, my ear generally gravitated towards Phife’s unmistakable voice, delivery, and sense of humor.
Trying to boil down Tribe’s nearly flawless catalog down to one track that best embodies Phife’s qualities is damn near impossible. But if I had to pick one, no track lets you know what Phife is all about as concisely as Buggin’ Out. In the first minute of the song, Phife absolutely murders this classic, and even with just a simple, “microphone check one, two, what is this?”, Phife elevates the hype level of track well beyond the level of human comprehension.
It’s sad when anyone passes away, whether they are close to you, celebrity, or otherwise. But Phife Dawg was truly a unique voice in hip-hop; one that has probably influenced many, but has definitely never been duplicated. But one of the great joys of music is that even after such a tragic loss in the music world, his music legacy will still live on.
R.I.P. Malik Isaac Taylor a.k.a. Phife Dawg (1970 – 2016)