My Top 8 Phife Dawg Lyrics!


It’s been just over a week and the hip hop universe is still reeling from the tragic news of the passing of Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest due to complications from diabetes.  Phife’s health had been a constant issue for him over the years. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1990 and had a kidney transplant in 2008 to deal with the disease.  I had the good opportunity to connect with The Five Foot Assassin when he was in Toronto for a Big Ticket performance in 2015 and he struck me as a real humble dude that made time for people regardless who they were or what they were about.  It’s a trait that I personally value and perhaps that’s why it resonated with me the way it did.  The seemingly never ending stream of tributes that have poured in through social media have helped me to reflect and remember on his music and lyrical genius that made him such a special pioneer in the industry.

So in no particular order, here’s my offering to the man who “never half stepped because he’s not a half stepper”

1.“Yo, microphone check one, two, what is this? / The five foot assassin with the roughneck business” (“Buggin’ Out,” The Low End Theory, 1991)

2. “Now here’s a funky introduction of how nice I am / Tell your mother, tell your father, send a telegram” (“Check the Rhime,” The Low End Theory, 1991)

3. “I like ‘em brown, yellow, Puerto Rican or Haitian / Name is Phife Dawg from the Zulu Nation” (“Electric Relaxation,” Midnight Marauders, 1993)

4. “Can I kick it? / To my Tribe that flows in layers / Right now, Phife is a poem-sayer” (“Can I Kick It?,” People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, 1990)

5. Competition dem try fe come side way / But competition they must come straight way” (“Jazz (We’ve Got),” The Low End Theory, 1991)

6 . “I’m not your average MC with the Joe Schmoe flow / If you don’t know me by now, you’ll never know” (“We Can Get Down,” Midnight Marauders, 1993)

7. “Trini gladiator, anti-hesitator, / Shaheed, push the fader, from here to Grenada. Mr. Energetic. Who me, sound pathetic? When’s the last time you heard a funky diabetic?” (Oh My God,’ Midnight Marauders 1993)

8. “You see, my aura’s positive, I don’t promote no junk, / See, I’m far from a bully and I ain’t a punk. /Extremity in rhythm, yeah that’s what you heard, So just clean out your ears and just check the word.” ‘Check the Rhime,’ The Low End Theory (1991)