RIP Phife Dawg – Favorite Verses: #5 – “8 Million Stories”

A day in the life of the Funky Diabetic

phife-dawg_10190399-portrait-article_4col_fix_widthThe Phifer doesn’t get enough shine for his storytelling abilities. He’s not Slick Rick or Nas, but his flow is hyper, funny, original, and usually a fresh alternative to Tip’s more laid-back style.

Phife (as well as Q-Tip) have “solo” tracks on most ATCQ albums1; “8 Million Stories” just edges out “Butter” as my favorite of these “Phife only” cuts.

Phife, in his everyday man role, weaves a tale of robbery, shopping, and sports over a sick sample of Bola Sete’s “Bettina”.

A Tribe Called Quest – 8 Million Stories

RIP Phife Dawg – Favorite Verses: #6 – “The Infamous Date Rape”

A great rapper gone too soon.


He was the Everyman to Q-Tip’s cerebral abstract vibes, bringing in pop culture references and grounding the group for the streets.

-Andre Torres, Executive Editor, Genius

A few years ago, a guest pastor came to my church to give a sermon on Joseph and his 11 brothers. As the story goes, Joseph was despised by his brothers (because their father, Jacob, favored Joseph over the others). One day, in a jealous rage, they brothers toss Joseph into a pit and fake his death1.

The pastors point was as follows: most of us try to relate to Joseph, when in reality, we are more like the 11 brothers.

I thought about that sermon when I heard about the passing of Phife Dawg – one third (or fourth, if you count Jarobi) of A Tribe Called Quest. Q-Tip was the smooth one – with the cocoa-brown skin, tall frame, and perfect words for the ladies. When I recite Tribe verses, I imagine that I’m Q-Tip…. but in reality, I’m more like Phife. Q-Tip was the abstract one. Phife was the realist. Q-Tip took you to the edges of the universe with a smooth flow and sideways thinking. Phife kept you grounded on earth with the realities of life.

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Ten Songs from 2015 that you should be listening to: #2 Kendrick Lamar’s For Sale? (Interlude)

kendrick-lamar[1]What’s been said about Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly has most assuredly already been said: Complex. Ambitious. Avant-garde. There are days when I can listen to it on end; other days, the weight of it makes me turn to something else.

There is one track, however, that I can ALWAYS listen to: Kendrick’s “For Sale? (Interlude)”.

Lucy is all the [things] that I was thinking of that I know can be detrimental to not only me but the people around me, and still be tempted by them. That’s some scary s–t. It’s like looking at a bullet inside of a gun, knowing you can kill yourself with it, but you’re still picking it up and playing with it.
– Kendrick Lamar, as quoted in the Guardian

When I was in college, I struggled to make it to Sunday service. Part laziness, part distance – it just wasn’t a priority for me. That being said, there were days that I needed a word from God. When I was in those moods, I didn’t turn to typical gospel or Christian hymns – I put on John Coltrane’s Love Supreme. His ode to his higher power spoke to me (and still does) in a way that no gospel recording ever has.

Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly isn’t a Love Supreme, but “For Sale?”, speaks to me in a similar way. A morality play in verse, “For Sale?” tells of the temptations of “Lucy” (short for Lucifer) and the promises of material things and the fight to stay true to yourself. Its a struggle I believe we all face and I love Kendrick for being so transparent about it.

“Alright” and “These Walls” rightly get called out as great cuts on To Pimp a Butterfly; I just want “For Sale?” to get it’s requisite shine too.

Kendrick Lamar – For Sale? (Interlude)

Ten Songs from 2015 that you should be listening to: #10 Yasiin Bey’s Sensei On The Block

1440742341_0683b270c67b0773c0b38f92e3534f42[1]Last September, the underground hip-hop community lost their stuff when a new Mos Def track dropped out of the sky. The track, “Sensei on the Block”, featured the Brooklyn rapper at his finest, over a killer steel-drum beat by Ski Beatz1. Many, me included, thought that this was a return to glory for the Mighty Mos Def – both from a lyrics and titular perspective (in late 2011, Mos decide to perform under his gov’t name – Yasiin Bey).
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Happy Birthday, 9th Wonder

IFWT_stitch5[1]In celebration of 9th Wonder’s birthday, here’s a quick listing of my favorite 9th Wonder productions.

Little Brother – “Whatever You Say”

9th Wonder broke into the business with the underground Hip-Hop group Little Brother (best MCs out of the Carolinas). His trademark was taking obscure soul samples and using them as the foundation for LB’s tracks. 9th’s beat were perfect for the musings of Rapper Big Pooh and Phonte. Their first two albums1 were classics, and many of the cuts from those LPs stay in heavy rotation on my iPhone: “Lovin’ It” (their breakout track), “Say It Again” (shows how witty LB’s lyrics can be), “The Becoming” (“I LOVE this Rufus sample).

My favorite cut is “Whatever You Say”. Great sample (Cleo Laine’s “I Believe You”) and a great story (the classic boy-meets-girl, girl-disses-boy).

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