Phife Dawg, one of the founding members of seminal hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest, died Tuesday at the age of 45 after a battle with diabetes. Many musicians and artists honored the star with messages after his death.
Among them was Roots drummer Questlove, who shared a heartfelt remembrance of the late musician on Instagram. Writing about A Tribe Called Quest’s 1991 song “Scenario,” Questlove noted, “I swear to god THAT was the moment I knew I wanted to make THIS type of music when I grew up.”
The drummer’s lengthy Instagram post focuses on his first experience listening to Tribe’s second album, The Low End Theory, which closes with “Scenario.” He recalls that on a rainy fall day in 1991 he purchased multiple Miles Davis albums — the jazz titan had recently died — but also picked up The Low End Theory. “The only non jazz purchase I made that day ironically was the most jazziest album in that collection,” he writes.
After a lighter section explaining “the frustration that was CD packaging in 1991,” Questlove describes his first listen of the classic hip-hop album. “The sign of a true classic is when a life memory is burnt in your head because of the first time you hear a song,” he notes. Specifically, he calls Phife Dawg’s verse on one of the album’s songs, “Buggin’ Out,” “a gauntlet/flag planting moment in hip-hop … HE. CAME. FOR. BLOOD & was taking NO prisoners on this album.”
Kendrick Lamar also paid tribute to Phife Dawg at a concert in Sydney, Australia. “We lost one of the pioneers of hip-hop today by the name of Phife Dawg,” he told the crowd, before thanking the legend “for allowing me to do what I’m doing on this stage, right here, right now, today.” Lamar then led the audience in chanting the rapper’s name.[facebook url="https://www.facebook.com/triplejbreakfast/videos/10153543643243481/" /]
Other current hip-hop musicians shared their thoughts about Phife Dawg on social media. Public Enemy’s Chuck D called him “a true fire Social Narrator” and Talib Kweli noted that “today is a dark day in hip-hop.” Jive Records labelmate E-40 said Phife Dawg was a “solid & talented dude” while El-P and Big Sean also offered condolences. Even the office of New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said “goodbye to a true Queens legend,” noting that “A Tribe Called Quest blessed our city with beats, rhymes, and life.”