As the hip-hop world continues to celebrate the life of A Tribe Called Quest MC Phife Dawg, tributes have been rolling in in all shapes and sizes. Kendrick Lamar got his 18,000-strong audience in Sydney to chant the Queens rapper’s name, Mac Miller released a track in homage to the “5 ft. Assassin” (listen to it below), and The Roots’ Questlove is planning on spinning nothing but Tribe songs at a club night he’s DJing at in the group’s native New York City this weekend.
Last night heralded an unexpected but very welcome tribute from local Atlanta, GA news station WSB-TV, where their presenters revealed a deep and appreciative knowledge of Phife’s lyrical genius in the most brilliant way possible.
Spearheading this unique tribute to the self-proclaimed “funky diabetic” was traffic reporter Mark Alum, who, in giving his updates on the Atlanta rush hour during yesterday’s transmission, managed to squeeze in as many lyrical nods to Phife as possible. “So Mark McKay, are things ludicrously speedy or infectious with the slo-mo?” Alum asks his airborne colleague, referencing ATCQ’s ‘Award Tour’ and promptly kicking off the greatest set of traffic updates you’ll ever lay eyes your on.
The manner in which Alum and anchor Fred Blankenship wheel off the subtle lyrical nods is exquisite, making for the perfect – if a little unusual – tribute to Phife’s skills on the mic.
Meanwhile, A Tribe Called Quest posted their own touching tribute to Phife on their official site last night, proclaiming that he will “rest in power”:
“Our hearts are heavy. We are devastated. This is something we weren’t prepared for although we all know that life is fleeting. It was no secret about his health and his fight. But the fight for his joy and happiness gave him everything he needed. The fight to keep his family happy, his soul happy and those around him happy, gave him complete and unadulterated joy… until he heeded his fathers call.
We love his family his mother, his father, his son, his wife, his nieces, his family here in New York, Atlanta, California and Trinidad.
Thank you for the outpouring of prayers and support from the fans, fellow artists, music outlets, blogs, radio stations, DJ’s, social media and the music community at large. This too is part of his joy and means a lot to him. His family is overwhelmed by the support, well wishes and are thankful. His music and what he’s contributed is seismic and hard to measure. He’s affected us as much as he’s affected all of you. We’re inspired by his daily joy and courage. He wasn’t in pain. He was happy.
We take comfort in knowing he will be beside his grandmother.”
His beats, rhymes and life will live long in the memory through his work with ATCQ, of course – take a look at our retrospective on Phife’s career, and how his presence on the group’s seminal second album ‘The Low End Theory’ cemented their status as legends of hip-hop.