The death of Phife Dawg last week hit the HipHop world as hard as the deaths of Tupac and Notorious Big. Social media was trending with heartfelt tributes as well as countless radio stations, DJs, Bloggers all paying their respects to one third of the legendary ATCQ.
ATCQ really will never be bettered or beaten. Representing Jazzy, soulful, conscious HipHop since their debut album in 1990 and tearing through the 1990s as a breath of fresh air alongside groups like De La Soul and the Jungle Brothers collectively known as the Native tongues. They provided the perfect alternative to the West coast G-Funk and the hard hitting East coast HipHop which were ruling HipHop through the early to mid 1990s. ATCQ influence can still be seen and heard today in HipHop, Soul, R&B and countless other genres. They really helped change HipHop by bringing through soulful, jazzy productions layered with conscious, heartfelt lyrics. Showing the world that Hiphop wasn’t all about guns, gangsters and girls. Although due to personal and label issues in the late 1990s ATCQ broke up they still have their legacy of 5 flawless studio albums, as well as remixed and greatest hits albums and countless solo albums.
With his unexpected passing, the gap Phife Dawg has left is huge! For me personally despite my timeline being taken over last week with countless Phife Dawg posts, it didn’t really kick in until Saturday morning when we kicked off the show with a Phife Dawg tribute. Now for myself my own personal experience of ATCQ and Phife Dawg came much later than most I am certain. I started listening to HipHop around 1993/1994 and I was hugely into, surprise, surprise Tupac, Biggy, Nas, Wu-Tang, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg etc.etc. In my head I was rolling around L.A. in a low rider, or in the back streets of Brooklyn slinging crack with Biggy. Although I knew of ATCQ mainly as their music was the soundtrack to all the skateboard films we would watch. It wasn’t until around 02/03 whilst I was living in Edinburgh that ATCQ became part of my life. I bought “Midnight Marauders” on vinyl and the rest is history I remember buying their entire back catalogue a few days later and for me the music that Phife and ATCQ gave to the world is timeless. Whether you bought the albums when they were first released and caught all their early shows, or maybe like myself you got into their music much later. Or maybe just maybe you are starting your Phife Dawg journey now and you didn’t know of ATCQ until the very sad passing of another HipHop great. With His flow, delivery, style, swagger and overall that smooth iconic voice one thing is certain it will never be silenced! We each owe a death there are no exceptions, but few leave behind the legacy and void that Phife Dawg has. RIP to the 5ft freak, the funky diabetic and one of the GOAT.