His mother named him Malik. He named himself Phife Dawg. I was remiss in not noting his passing here this week, and for that I am sorry. I was just so stunned that this still-young man, this man who was a year younger than me, had died.
I had also forgotten how truly great A Tribe Called Quest was. They were a genre-bending Hip-Hop group who refused to buy into the stereotypes that the music industry insisted on imposing on black artists. But listening to this music for the first time in many, many years, it sounds like it was made today. Like Wiz Khalifa just stepped up to the mic. Like some wicked Jazz combo decided to have Mos Def and Talib Kweli front their band. Like no time has passed. A Tribe Called Quest not only made some of the best Hip-Hop out there, they made the rest of the really good stuff possible. They were pioneers in every sense of the word, and Phife Dawg’s influence will be felt for years to come. Timeless.