Depending on who you talk to, the late Phife Dawg is either a complete unknown or a groundbreaking hip-hop icon. As a member of A Tribe Called Quest, he and his mates helped pave the way for generations of forthcoming alternative hip-hop heads – from Kanye West and Common, to legions of underground rappers.
While Phife, real name Malik Izaak Taylor, was small in stature (he was famously dubbed “Malik the Five Foot Freak”), his big, gritty rhymes were the perfect balance to the smooth delivery of Tribe’s co-founder Q-Tip. Both iconic emcees’ ingenious lyric sheets are forever documented on a series of acclaimed LPs, starting with Tribe’s 1990 debut on Jive Records, People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm.
|Triple R and GLC present: Phife Dawg Tribute Show
Pyramid Scheme, 68 Commerce St. SW, Grand Rapids
Proceeds to benefit the American Diabetes Association
Thursday, June 30, 7 pm, $6 adv., $8 day of, 18+
While Phife had a number of witty nicknames that poked a bit of fun at his height (5-foot 3-inches), he also owned another moniker: “The Funky Diabetic.”
Phife would casually drop the nickname on his tracks, but it was a very serious issue in his life starting in 1990, when he was diagnosed. In 2008, he received a kidney transplant following years of complications from the disease. When he passed away back in March at age 45, due to his battle with diabetes, throngs of dedications popped up across the world. Thursday, it is Grand Rapids’ turn to tip its hat to the New York rap pioneer.
Julius Hayes, with Triple R Entertainment and also a bartender at Pyramid Scheme, is helping organize the Phife Dawg Tribute Show along with GLC, proceeds benefit the American Diabetes Association. The roster of performers includes DJ Providence, DJ ILL ONE, Lamar Supreme, Sincrere, Peazy, 61Syx Teknique, B Sykes, DJ Choppy Blades and Bedrock.
“I first got into Tribe in the ‘90s when Rap City was on – the video for ‘Scenario’ popped up,” Hayes said. “The video had a futuristic feel, crazy drums and quotable lines for days.”
“Phife will forever be an influence for hip-hop culture, period,” he added. “If anyone is truly about the culture they have been influenced by Phife. He, and all the other originators, opened the doors for us.”
As for what to expect at the event, Hayes said it will embody Phife’s bright, artistic sprit.
“People can expect the true essence of hip hop,” Hayes said. “There will be b-boys, b-girls, emcees, DJs, art, positive vibes and getting educated about diabetes by the American Diabetes Association.”