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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My Favorite Albums: Midnight Marauders

My love of A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders1 starts, like most stories, with a girl.

I was a junior in high school and was on campus late one Saturday evening for an anti-drug rally. There were some girls from a neighboring town in attendance and I had taken a liking to one of them. The rally ended at 10PM, but their ride was late… so I chivalrously (and maybe selfishly) volunteered to wait with them. It was cold, but that’s ok: I let lil’ shorty wear my Starter jacket2 (and didn’t wash it for a month afterward because it smelled like her) while we passed the time by trying guess the hard-to-decipher lyrics to the chorus of “Electric Relaxation”.

“Electric Relaxation” was to 1993 as “I Need Love” was to 1987. Q-Tip was the smooth operator; Phife Dawg was the realist (I love the line: ‘I like ‘em brown, yellow, Puerto Rican, or Haitian’). The beat3 (a masterfully reworked sample of Ronnie Foster’s “Mystic Brew”) was an instant classic4.
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