Phife Dawg’s Final Album Releases. It Features Q-Tip, Little Brother & More

Today (March 22) marks six years since Phife Dawg tragically passed away at 45 years old due to kidney failure. At the time, the A Tribe Called Quest co-founder was secretly working on a reunion album with Q-Tip, Jarobi, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad. That 2016 LP, We got it from Here…Thank You 4 Your service, went on to make history as it topped the charts, even if Malik Taylor was not there to enjoy the fanfare surrounding the group’s first album in 18 years. In that same period, Phifer was also hard at work at his album in almost as long.

During Tribe’s hiatus, Phife made Ventilation: Da LP in 2000, featuring J Dilla, Pete Rock, Hi-Tek, and Fred Wreck. 2022’s Forever involves Q-Tip, Redman, Busta Rhymes, Illa J, Posdnuos, Little Brother, Lyric Jones, Maseo, Dwele, and Angela Winbush, among others. Production is provided by 9th Wonder, Khrysis, Nottz, and the late Dilla, among others. The album arrives as Phife, Tip, Ali, and Jarobi are nominated for a 2022 Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame induction as A Tribe Called Quest.

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Selections from the Smokin’ Needles Records LP have made their way onto the official Ambrosia For Heads playlist, embedded below. Highlights include “Dear Dilla,” by Phife and Q-Tip, celebrating the producer who joined them for Beats Rhymes & Life and The Love Movement after his Slum Village work impressed Tip on tour. In the song, Phife speaks to his cohort: “Hold tight, this ain’t the last time I see you / Due time, that’s my word, I’ma see you / Frontin’-ass rappers now here stealin’ issue / Posin’ like they hard when we know they all see through / I’ma tell you, Dilla, why they lackin’ skills now / No stage presence, cadence, style / They livin’ off of hooks, skinny jean crooks / Pre-K lyrics, why would I need a book? / I reminiscе, reminisce, when Mobb droppеd ‘Shook’ / Shan was Down By Law, such a good look / Nas’ God’s Son, his return was Stillmatic / ‘Distortion To Static,’ you and Slum Fantastic / Thought I’d chop you out, son, see how you’re doin’ / Come back to earth, homie, Hip-Hop is in ruins.” While bigging up some peers from Queens and Philly, Phife speaks to Hip-Hop’s changes, while The Abstract participates in the chorus. Notably, the Forever features Phife’s face in front of a map of St. Albans, Queens.

Also on the playlist is “2 Live Forever,” featuring Little Brother, Plug 1, and Darien Brockington. Pos’ kicks it off, mentioning that he misses Phife. Phonte raps next with a nostalgic and soulful collection of bars—also crediting what he learned from Mutty Ranks. ‘Te’s frequent collaborator Darien has interplay midway through the verse. For his part, Phife references his ’90s classics—something he does throughout the LP. Big Pooh closes things out. Like “The 5 Footer,” Pooh is an avid sports fan who brings passion to his lyrics.

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The playlist also features other new music from Lauryn Hill, Nas, KRS-One, Redman, Busta, Posdnuos, and others.

#BonusBeat: A late 2020 episode of AFH‘s What’s The Headline podcast that prepared for the arrival of Phife Dawg’s final album: