A five-foot assassin was put to rest in New York yesterday and more than a few wept.
Diminutive killers aren’t supposed to engender such emotion from the public, but Malik Taylor’s targets weren’t people who crossed him wrong or bounties sold at the highest price, the one called Phife Dawg murdered bar after bar given to him as one of the greatest hip-hop groups of all time, A Tribe Called Quest.
Given the time of his passing a couple weeks ago, the old adage of death being a rapper’s best publicity stunt can be held up again, but we shouldn’t look at this man’s passing through complications of diabetes with cynicism.
Regardless of the status of his health, Phife was ready to spring new music and new “styles upon styles” on a public that always misses him, even when they didn’t know, and by the measure of this first single we’re going to be enjoying his continued contributions at least through the remainder of 2016.
Dropping a heat rock like “Nutshell” is so appropriate in the moment (with one of his greatest collaborators, who he joins in the brilliant musical afterlife), it lets us know that this dude was an MC to the death and beyond that an artist to his core. Rhyming in impromptu cyphers, rhyming in YouTube exclusives, rhyming for free, rhyming for a fee — none of that mattered to the Phifer, he was out to get his and always out to prove himself. No matter how large the legacy of his past music continued to grow, there was still another punchline to kick, that’s why people who love hip-hop love Phife Dawg. Period.
It’s also why you get the salutes that you see below, including our very own compiled by WARR. Check it and get familiar for the first time, or 1nce Again, with a rhymer who was always on point.
More Phife Dawg Tributes
Watch Kanye West, D’Angelo, André 3000, KRS-One, and More Honor the Legacy of Phife Dawg (Complex)
Phife Dawg Picks His 5 Favorite A Tribe Called Quest Songs (Vulture)
You On Point, Phife: Phife Dawg’s 10 Most Memorable Lyrics (The Source)
I’m Buggin’ Out: RIP To The Five Foot Assassin, Phife Dawg, My Favorite Underdog (Very Smart Bros.)
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