“And to you other sellouts: Oh yeah, F you too!/And let it be known I’m not the one to step to…” – “Scenario Remix”
Now here’s a funky introduction of how mic Malik influenced the G…Where some of his supreme chemical structures of concentrated integrity I audio powdered into my own pen. Liquified by samples of his extra ordinary fluidity all let my inspirations pour. Five foot three too and willing to assassinate true, this man destined to be born #PowerWrite meditated in the score of an elder assassin. Phife, the size of Muggsy Bogues, immacutely towering, all in the complexion of a hockey puck, and I, yute brethren, Brown and proud as fuck.
“What we need is raw peoples who will practice they craft”
– “Lemme Find Out”
The clichéd streets of ghetto Gunset, Brooklyn had the expected machinery young men learn trades with. Stamped with morals mindfully, I listened to my Ol’ Earth who put the pen in my hand. A survival tool she offered, one that’s supposed to prevent niggas and spics from so easily mixing into statistics of death and incarceration, to an assimilation tour, with proper Hispanic plans. It all officially detours when I knowledged A Tribe Called Quest covering The Source magazine. Ignorant of words on Art even as the Low End Theory is becoming a thesis in my laboratory of revolution just as One For All have scripted the once mysterious variables. The wonder of my Hip Hop element, the Writer, sprouts from that late ‘93 Source Tribe cover and would propel itself definitively when I leaf through roots of my great elder Bonz Malone’s Stix & Stones. Phife was and will always be there, a treasured memory of A-Alike height, insight and willed might.
If #ArtOnArt is the glory of my element, then #ScienceOnMusic is the core. And the core of Phife’s glory is a technical precision that is so jeweled it is often dismissed. It is an effortless mastery with cleverness of punchlines, subtle social commentary and spilling with the content of Hip Hop principles that put all his verses on the square, the worded B-Boy stance. In today’s miscategorizing, where buying in is the proactive way of selling out, labels that once hindered the creative, now define our legends, niche to us our new rebels and screenplay our struggle from act to act. So now, A Tribe Called Quest isn’t hardcore, they aren’t tough enough and worthy as a successful target of Jazz rap that white hipsters love. And where is the #ScienceOnMusic to deconstruct the convoluted bullshit?! The manic media of depressive dialects were never there as the true embedded-in-the-life journalist who ages into a griot historian. As I come to build that Tribe’s hardcore was progressive and countercultural in result, sampled the unheard of while wildly chopping the loved familiar and were so upright tough that all of humanity appealed to the skill as they thrilled to the championed tenets of Zulu pure.
“I’m gonna stay strong because I ain’t buying it”
- “8 Million Stories”
Knowledge of self, the ideas of and from the self that prove the supremacy. 1989 or 90, born ciphers are filled with African medallions and kufis with the understanding tassles worn by the builders making knowledge born. Phenotype stereotypes often obstructed the genetic jewels so Brown brothers are often in and out of the casa. Still, the lyrics develop and it’s not just fun but the mandatory therapy. And I fight to learn what Brand Nubian is building on. Yet out of these righteous extremities for revenue the daily toil, the simple warfare Zen of being Black and Brown find the perfect palette of wax, A Tribe Called Quest. Q-Tip guided the deeper themes of humanity, Phife the immortal everybrother on the block. Knowledge of self needs the civilization, truths of the hells masked as progressed society, but it also needs the walking literature of its quest. And Phife was a 5 Foot Assassin A-Alike on wax that added on to my tribe. A tribe of mind discographied by militancy memos, revolution blueprints, knowledge of self scrolls and these unifying Phife/Tip journal sheets. So many called the legacy, even the crackers, wiggers and the rare real, raw anomaly whites that strolled lyric for lyric. Tribe was the exquisite simplicity of Hip Hop’s necessary extremes, classical musical scores of the daily Black and Brown through the ever murky streets of the urbanized oppressed areas. Blasting out ATCQ was our hysteria.
- “1nce Again”
A balance on syllables, weighed and measured to the exact milligrams of illness. The Phife flow never had limitations, a gift nearly impossible to imitate. He fired in altered short bursts of variation as the tale of “Butter” commenced and easily rippled into smooth dialect of extended long broken sentences of “Lyrics to Go.” Bo never knew that Phife burst into the hooks of jingles that’d he destroy with mean punchlines cause Phife really could rap. In the days when rhyming about being real was the greatest affirmation, Phife was the ideal with inflections of comedic emphasis, endless stylist displays from paused pacing and altered pronunciation to his proud patois that accentuated his soulfulness. As the God Guru was my principled role model, a heart to the honor men ought to carry themselves with, Phife was as an oversized aorta pumping the values of the culture through the streets into the pop arenas. So Vanilla Ice platinum is still fucking ridiculous and when we walked the streets we really knew it was about him so seckle with the mission.
Phife was a truth in my ghetto happiness that we make happen regardless to whom or what. In my teen years, the enemies are being defined while the uniform is being refined. I’ll soon learn for sure that it’s always been a war going on outside, not just a random pig, just that one racist school teacher or just an earned poverty we struggle from. So as food stamp perforations are accurately torn in discreteness, the humiliation of face to face appointments burn and the random home audit raids diffuse, our own welfare wanes until the rewinds of the fun we create. A fun of a classic 90’s era in sports dispelling dynasties that distract from Giants chips to Jordan’s supremacy. A fun at the endless contact with the gorgeous Black, Brown, Yellow, Puerto Rican or Haitian, so many we had the potential to lace. A fun of our music where Phife freestyled the wit and wonder of the way we lived, the today’s issues from a brother with flaws, as us, but supreme now as his talents shine, a man not of the fame but of the people. Through the illest jerseys, fitteds and snapbacks we still can only dress the real brother, Trinidad and Tobago supreme, as the ideal MC, a worthy Man of Courage.
- “Check The Rhime”
As I grew into the knowledge of self, the Low End Theory is that early measure of musical excellence that punctuated the dignity of this artform and set off an obsession with listening to everything. The music would then become something I must collect, buy, borrow, steal or dub. I willed myself to hear and have them all. The more I listened, the devilishment of the world became exposed as the camouflage to who we are, ought to be and will be born. As One For All are the sung scriptures that I start to have sense attached to, Low End Theory is its day-to-day sensibilities with Phife being the symbol of joy in a worsening world. A rare joy in the loss of ignorant innocence, right before the urban guerialla uniforms are tailored upon us. Just a short year or two before Timbz and hood checks and this brown monk enters the thirty sixth chamber. We’d be young and grown all for the children but when we were just children, the greatest works included Tribe and Phife is one of its legends. An MC so brave, he revealed the supremacy of us shortest brothers and revealed Almighty the treasure of the dark skin face…
Phife is, and always will be, an inspiration that helped let my own heavenly words collapse the hell of dead pages with styled pride. Thank you, our brother. You will always be Remembered In Perfection.
“I’m just a fly MC who’s five foot three and very brave…”
- “Check The Rhime”