Malik Taylor, better known as A Tribe Called Quest's Phife Dawg, has passed away at the age of 45. DJ Chuck Chillout broke the news on Twitter early Wednesday morning, which sparked an outpouring of love from communities across the globe.
While the cause of death is as yet unclear, Phife's friends and loved ones have been posting requiems all day, not the least of which is an emphatic statement on Facebook from his daughter Jessica Marcia, who appears to attribute her father's death to his long standing battle with diabetes.
As one of New York City's golden age hip hop titans, Phife helped launch A Tribe Called Quest to legendary status alongside partners Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammed.
Quest albums flow masterfully.
Take, for example, on The Low End Theory, when "Verses from the Abstract" runs its course and lands on "...and we out!" The lyrics of "Show Business," swing you into the next track ahead of its drums, like a spiral in tempo that glues you into a faster tune by the third bar.
The beat between tracks glues them together without actually using any sound.
So to honor the life of Phife and one of the most celebrated hip hop groups of all time, we're running down an alphabetical list of our favorite tracks by A Tribe Called Quest.
1. "Award Tour"
One of the hits from 1993's Midnight Marauders, the video for "Award Tour" is as chill as the track itself.
Watch Quest rhyme in their native Queens, just chillin' in the park.
2. "Bonita Applebum"
From Quest's first album, 1990's People's Instinctive Travels and Paths of Rhythm, "Bonita Applebum" is a good example of how a Quest beat can really be carried by just one sample.
3. "Buggin' Out"
Phife kicks off the track famously, "Microphone check one two what is this? The five foot assassin with the roughneck business."
"Buggin' Out" comes from maybe Quest's most well-known album, Low End Theory. If Low End isn't the best known, it's probably the most widely influential, famously featuring jazz heavyweight Ron Carter on the bass.
4. "Busta's Lament"
Busta's lament comes from Quest's last "proper" album, The Love Movement from 1998. It's not their most loved album.
Part of that sentiment comes from the glaring snares, but if you can brush that to the side, "Busta's Lament" is as chill as it comes.
5. "Check the Rhyme"
"Check the Rhyme" is, if nothing else, a reassurance that Phife Dawg is on point, all the time. Check them out live on Letterman in 1993, with live instrumentation.,
6. "Electric Relaxation"
Another one of the most played tracks off of Midnight Marauders, "Electric Relaxation" is one of those Quest songs that feels like summertime in the City.
Of course, they're clearly well-jacketed in the video, even in the diner...
7. "Jazz (We've Got)"
Much like "Electric Relaxation," "Jazz (We've Got)" is an example from Low End Theory of how Quest defined a certain laid back, jazz-informed sound in hip hop.
8. "Oh My God"
But A Tribe Called Quest isn't always chill. When Busta Rhymes is on the track, things can get hype.
One of Phife's rhymes in "Oh My God," "When's the last time you heard a funky diabetic?" references his long standing battle with sugar and diabetes.
"Scenario" is another banger from Low End Theory, and clearly a fan favorite. Again, Quest's inclusion of Busta on the track provides a high energy balance to their chill.
Also, this music video is one of the greatest things ever created. Ever.[Feature Image Courtesy MusicIsMySanctuary.com]