Warning: this is personal, this is not meant to be politically correct and im nor willing do debate my opinion here. This is strictly my feelings on this matter.
Written by Mirage512:
A Tribe Called Quest is my favorite group of all time. Tribe came along at the perfect time in my life, I was so open to the style of music that they brought. The sound seemed to speak to me where i was and it grew with me as I grew. They were not the first to use jazz samples in their music but i will say that they were some of the best to do it.
From the first time I saw “I left my wallet in El Segundo” I knew that Q-Tip was the clear leader of the group but his brilliance needed his rhyme partner Phife Dawg, it was the perfect contrast of style. Tip seemed to be the mystic and naturally took on the title of “The Abstract” later in his career. Phife was the street dude the everyday man, Phife’s style made Tribe more tangible to the listener. Tip could be a bit too abstract for the average cat sometime but Phife would reel it right back in and connect the people. With lines like
“I like them brown, yellow, Puerto Rican, or Haitian // Name is Phife Dawg from the Zulu nation”
“When’s the last time you heard a funky diabetic?”
“If my mom don’t approve, then I’ll just elope \\ Let me save the little man from inside the boat \\ Let me hit it from the back, girl I won’t catch a hernia \\ Bust off on your couch, now you got Seaman’s Furniture”
Phife’s role in the group increased as the years went on. I would say that he found his light and his lane on the second album and people began repeating his lyrics as well as Q-Tip’s lines, which were always at the forefront. Phife always seemed to be telling Tip “hey dog, dont go too far out there with that abstract shit, your gonna confuse the people”
As exposed in the documentary “Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels Of A Tribe Called Quest” there was obvious friction between Phife and Tip but that energy seemed to be what made the group great. From the outside looking in it appeared that Tip was always more interested in pushing the envelope and expanding the sound while Phife seemed to want to keep it in the pocket and give folk what they expected from ATCQ. It always seemed like Tip spent 24hrs in the studio and Phife spent half the day in the hood, that contrast in style is what made A Tribe Called Quest great. It was no surprise to find out that Phife was a huge sports fan as well, that’s evident when you listen to his solo material. He is quite competitive with his lyrics.
Phife was diabetic and cleverly found a way to bring light to it and actually picked up a new title with it “when’s the last time you heard a funky diabetic”. Unfortunately due to diabetes Phife has passed on from this physical life. I am very saddened by this and for selfish reasons, I am hurt that i will never see the original Tribe Called Quest line-up ever again. Fortunately I did get to see them live once in my life and i will always treasure that show. I will also hold the extensive catalog of music that I have from Phife and A Tribe Called Quest