It’s been awhile. Too long. Listen to the 1944 Esquire All-American Jazz Concert. It’s hot.
The Hip Hop universe has awoken to some more tragic news this morning; Malik Taylor, aka Phife Dawg “The Five-Foot Assassin” and “The Funky Diabetic” , a founding member and literal cornerstone of the world renowned Golden Age of Hip Hop era group A Tribe Called Quest, apparently succumbed to the very disease he had made a favored appellation of and in recent years had struggled with. As of this writing, no official announcement has been made yet, but news sources had independently confirmed his passing, first noted on Twitter by legendary DJ Chuck Chillout.
I cannot for the life of me run down the details of his life at this point; having been a huge fan from the beginning and A Tribe Called Quest being on the itinerary of my musical young adulthood, it’s just mind-numbing to have lost someone critical too soon by anyone’s measure. Not to mention, we are losing so many dearly-held artists from so many areas in music these days that I can honestly say that I was shocked to hear about this, but that shock was quickly replaced by that very numbness that such an event would often inspire days later when you’ve had time to process the entirety of a person’s life, impact and death while you compare feelings and moments with friends and fellow fans. If there is PTSD for music, I must be in the throes of it, and it’s not something I would wish on anyone.
Nevertheless, instead of a eulogy culled from multiple news items, I present a link to an article from Vulture.com that was published last November in which Phife runs down his five favorite songs of A Tribe Called Quest; one from each album they made together. Perhaps at a later date I will revisit the idea of discussing the band’s impact on Hip Hop and music as well, as they are certainly worthy. Meanhwile, Rise In Power, Malik Taylor.
More Interviews with Phife Dawg:
Lastly, the title is borrowed from this track I came across while thinking of what to write. Listening to it again, I finally broke away from the numbness I implied earlier and had a moment with my inner self. We all can relate to that moment because we all have someone or something that touches that button one last time before they go on their journey, leaving something for us to think about; what was, what could have been. I just don’t know.
Ready to Die. Plus, oh so much more from Peter Guralinick on Blind Willie McTell.