As the Hip-Hop community mourns the loss of a great one, I decided to make this the topic of my debut CiTLR article. So…I typed a question, to myself, in the title box (Yes, I talk to myself…judge your mother). And, once I typed the title of this, I realized that my answer is simply, “I don’t know.” But lets look…
Hip-Hop, at its very core, is creativity. Hip-Hop is intellectual, yet fun. Hip-Hop is raw and in your face (pause), but can make you laugh your ass off at the same time. While more than likely not on anyone’s top 10 list, Phife was more “Hip-Hop” than not.
“I like ’em brown, yellow, Puerto Rican or Haitian/
Name is Phife Dawg of the Zulu Nation/ Told you in the jam that we can get down/
Now, let’s knock the boots like the group H-Town”
Since the late 80’s A Tribe Called Quest has been the epitome of creativity (see what I did there?). I don’t think my People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm was ejected from the tape deck of my ’81 Chevy in April of 1990 for a good 6 months. Shit, I’m old. Anyway, while this album was most remembered for I Left My Wallet In El Segundo, Bonita Applebum, and Can I Kick It?, it was Push It Along where I first heard Phife’s young raspy delivery.
“Put one up for the Phifer, it’s time to deceipher/
The ills of the world make the situation lighter/
The clock is always tickin’, the systems should be kickin’/
Like Tip said in Ham and Eggs, I eat chicken, chicken, chicken.”
Raw and in your face (literally).
“I’m all that and then some, short dark and handsome/
Bust a nut inside your eye to show you where I come from”
What’s Hip-Hop without quotables…without punchlines. Phife delivered some of the greatest. That said, to this day, I’m still not able to hear the Seaman’s Furniture jingle without laughing a bit.
“Let me hit it from the back, girl I won’t catch a hernia/
Bust off on your couch now you got Seaman’s furniture.”
From co-founding one of the most legendary groups in Hip-Hop, to delivering some of the games most notable lines, Phife was a legend in his own.
And after all writing this, I still don’t have an answer to my original question: What’s more Hip-Hop than Phife Dawg? I don’t know.