Back in the day the quality of lyricism was more than partially defined based on the emcees story telling ability; and Phife Dawg From A Tribe Called quest was one of the greats. Far too often in Hip Hop, we fail to show continued appreciation for Our Legends & Pioneers (at least until they are gone that is), and here again is another lost opportunity. By now everyone on the planet knows that 45 Year Old Malik Taylor aka Phife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest has passed away somewhere within the past 24 hours. Having battled diabetes, and also having underwent a kidney transplant; we all could see that Phife was having a rough go of things in recent years. But that doesn't make losing him any easier to bear. It has been refreshing to see the groundswell of tributes seen on social media-and hopefully we will now start taking better care to show love to our legends while they are still here & touring/making newer music. Starting with their 1990 debut album "People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm," and finishing up with their 1998 farewell opus "The Love Movement," Q-Tip & Phife put together some of the most memorable examples of clever lyricism ever in Hip Hop History. For those that may have forgotten, and more importantly for the generations that have come since, here's a few samples of Phife's Magic...
"If the beat's fat I use it, some wack shit, I lose it-Refuse it, how could you chose it, it stinks remove it. Put down the mic kid, cause you gets no dap-How long did it take for you to see you can't rap? The name is Phife Dawg and I got nuff styles-It doesn't take long for me to get buckwild. So bust what I'm swinging what I'm swinging when I swing-I rap when I rap cause I never wanna sing. Go ask the last emcee what happened when he said battle-I bust his ass in Cleveland now he's sleepless in Seattle. Rude bwoy official coming with the ill grammar
Coming back on kids like Joey Montana. We be the three emcees that make your mind go batty
Mad play on WKRP in Cincinatti. So lord send a hand and if you can't send a hand, send a man
And if you can't send a man, come yourself-Cause all these biting emcees, lord them something else. See I kick the styles that'll make your ass melt-Money on my mind so never mind a trick-New York is the town and the team is the Knicks. World's greatest five footer ripping parties apart-Here comes Shaheed with the big green shark. Never had to rhyme about filling one with lead-Never mind that, man, here come the dread!"
"One, Two Shit" 1993 Bonus B-Side cut off the "Oh My God" single
"You looked in the mirror, didn't know what to do-Yesterday your eyes were brown but today they are blue. Your whole appearance is a lie and it could never be true-And if you really liked yourself then you would try and be you. If your hair and eyes were real, I wouldn't have dissed ya-But since it was bought, I had to dismiss ya. But if you can't achieve it, then why not try and weave it. If you can't extend it then you might as well suspend it. If you can't braid it, best thing to do is fade it. I asked who did your hair and you tell me Diane made it. If you were you and just you, talk to you, maybe-But I can't stand, no bionic lady. Trying hard to look fly, but yo, you're looking dumber-If I wanted someone like you I would've swung with Jaime Sommers..."
"Butter" 1991 "Low End Theory" Album
"There's a million MCs that claim they want some-But see I create sounds that make your ears go numb. Peace to Sayres Ave., yeah you know how we go-My best friend Steven at the Home Depot. Laurelton is in the house, I can't forget Southside-Walk past MCs like that girl did to Pharcyde. I'm labeled as the cat's meow, the MC with the know-how-Act like you know, not now but right now. Beast of the East, on MCs I have a feast. I'd eat that ass like quiche, crack a smile like Shanice. Straight outta Jamaica, seen? Jamaica, Queens
But you could find me out in Georgia, or anywhere in between. Now if my partners don't look good, Malik won't look good-If Malik don't look good, then Quest won't look good
If the Quest don't look good, then Queens won't look good-But since the sounds are universal, New York won't look good. Picture Phife losing a battle, come on, get off it
Put down the microphone son, surrender, forfeit. Did I hear something 'bout a crew? What they wanna do? You better call Mr. Babyface so he can bring out the cool in you
Or it'll be a sad love song being sung by Toni Braxton-And I'll dissect you like a fraction.
Oh, you wannabe top cat MCs, I'll pop you like a zit-You wanna be the champ, you more like Chief Some-shit. Big up myself every time when it comes to this-MCs be running scared as if they're watching the Exorcist. I kick more game than a crackhead from Hempstead
My styles are milk, man, you'd think that I was breast-fed. You know the steelo when the diggy Dawg is on the scene-I dedicate this to all the MCs outta Queens. That goes for Onyx, LL, Run DMC-Akinyele, Nasty Nas and the Extra P. You need a chart, straight up and down man, there ain't no other-Nuff respect to all my peeps that made the album cover
Yo, Tip don't worry none you know I get the party jumping-Get on the mic and break 'em off a little little something. Yo, Tip don't worry none you know I gets the party jumping-Get on the mic my man and break 'em off a little something."
"God Lives Through" 1993 "Midnight marauders" Album