Even though I’m psyched to bring you this iconic video today, it also sucks because it’s in lieu of the fact that yesterday we lost a hip hop pioneer. Malik Isaac Taylor aka Phife Dawg from (probably the greatest hip hop group of all time) A Tribe Called Quest died yesterday at the young age of 45. ATCQ was very important to me and seminal in shaping the music I listened to then and continue to tune into today. Their consciousness, their collaborations and their fearlessness on all their albums from their debut People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm to the genius of Low End Theory delivered tracks that remain favourites on my playlists today. If you do not know them, I urge you to seek out these albums – they have something for everybody – the attitude of “Oh My God”, the jazz sounds of “Butter” and the charm of “Find A Way”. And on all of them Phife delivers the most memorable lines. I always looked forward to his verse on the group’s tracks as the “5 foot assassin” and his contribution will be greatly missed.
The video I’m posting here today is for their single “Scenario”. Phife Dawg is up first in a range of wigs reminding us that he was always the playful one in the group talking about “Don’t sweat what you heard, but act like you know.”. The video showcases some killer retro graphics, and a bevvy of posse images that feature a young Busta Rhymes, Redman, De La Soul and Spike Lee. It is perfectly 90s.
Phife laid the groundwork for a lot of these artists that influenced many young musicians today. As Questlove said upon hearing “Scenario”: “I swear to god THAT was the moment I knew I wanted to make THIS type of music when I grew up—(yeah yeah dad I know: “go to Juilliard or Curtis to make a nice living at “real music”) but he didn’t know that Phife & his crew already wrote my destiny. I ain’t look back since. THANK YOU PHIFE!”.
Thank you, Phife.