Malik Isaac Taylor (Phife Dawg)

There really isn’t any other hip-hop band more revered and respected than New York’s A Tribe Called Quest. I remember the moment I first heard that irresistible beat coming out of my portable boom-box after I got my hands on their first album (it was a cassette tape) People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm in 1990. Until that fateful day I was, for lack of a better description, a metal head. It was Iron Maiden and Metallica and Megadeth all day, every day. Don’t get me wrong I still love all of that, but it was the amazing lyrical flow of Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Jarobi White that opened my ears to a different style of music. I credit Tribe for making me aware that there was much more to life than banging my head.

When I woke up today and discovered that MC Phife Dawg had died I plugged my headphones in, put my phone on my shoulder (my boom-box is long gone) cranked up “Can I Kick It?,” and inhaled like a breath of fresh air.

Rest In Peace Phife!