Phife Dawg played a major role in the formation of A Tribe Called Quest that stretched all the way back to when he and future bandmate Q-Tip were just children. The group released a collective statement on the death of their beloved Malik Taylor aka Phife Diggy and Brooklyn-based DJ and producer J.Period has revealed a poignant recording of Q-Tip sharing some of his earliest memories of Phife.
Fans may not know Q-Tip and Phife Dawg sang in together in church as kids. And for Q-Tip, it was his comrade who was the first person to encourage him to start rhyming. In the archival interview, Q-Tip discussed Phife’s impact.
“Phife really introduced me to actually taking it seriously to rap. I’ve known Phife since I was like 4 years old. We went to church and everything. We sang in the harmony choir, all that stuff, and he was always the one like feeding me with different little things, or whatever, but he’s the one who kinda put it in me that I could rhyme ’cause he was always rhyming. When ‘Rapper’s Delight’ was out and he was 9 or 10 years old, the dude was rhyming, like freestyling. Like for real, like just making stuff up. And, he’s gifted. And, I just was always in awe of him. But, after we heard that Slick Rick tape and I sat with it…You know Run and them was poppin’ off from being around our way, he was like ‘Yo, man. We could just do it!’ I can remember we was in this cat name Randall’s car. He had like this Cadillac or something. Phife was like ‘Yo, man. We can rap, man. Listen to Rick. You know, you been listening to that joint for weeks. That’s your lane.’ Like, basically, in that kind of way he was saying that. So, he pushed me to rhyme.”
Thus opening the doors to what would become a pioneering sound in music, let alone hip-hop. R.I.P. to the Five Foot Assassin.