Beats, Rhymes And Life With Phife Dawg (@IamthePHIFER) From @A_T_C_Q !

Phife Dawg is a found­ing mem­ber of one of Hip-Hop’s most endear­ing and influ­en­tial groups: A Tribe Called Quest. I Am Hip-Hop caught up with Phife on the phone for a relaxed con­ver­sa­tion as he babys­at his nieces.

Q. What is the best live show exper­i­ence you’ve had with Tribe and also as a solo artist?
The best exper­i­ence I had on stage with Tribe would have to be Howard Home­com­ing in DC. Every time we did that it was pretty great exper­i­ence. Then as far as solo, mat­ter fact, when I came out to Lon­don, I for­got the name of the ven­ue but they showed the doc­u­ment­ary right before I per­formed.  And anoth­er time I per­formed at the Jazz Café. That was pretty dope.

Q. What does being a solo artist allow you to do on record or live that you couldn’t do in a group situ­ation?

That’s basic­ally it… the only dif­fer­ence is being in a group and being solo. Whatever you do, you have to take into con­sid­er­a­tion that there’s three oth­er mem­bers. Where­as as a soloist, you pick up and do what you want to do. It’s just me and my DJ. That’s the only dif­fer­ence really.

Q. You’re a keen sports fan.   Are there pro­jects in the future you have to do with sports?

Yeah, I’m work­ing on my own sports pod­cast right now. Sports radio show as well as doing some doc­u­ment­ar­ies real soon so I’m work­ing on that right so y’all def­in­itely see me on that.

 Q. What are the doc­u­ment­ar­ies about?

I haven’t figured it out yet. There’s a couple of ath­letes I want to inter­view and we would take it from there. Bas­ket­ball, Amer­ic­an Foot­ball… The dream ath­lete would have been Allan Iver­son but he already has a doc­u­ment­ary. Kobi Bry­ant. I’m sure every­body is already at him for a doc­u­ment­ary so that would be dif­fi­cult because he’s one of the more pop­u­lar ath­letes. I would love to inter­view old ath­letes from back in the day. They have a lot of stor­ies. Don Mad­dingly, Barry Bond, Ivy Smith. They’re already hall of fam­ous so I know they have a lot of stor­ies to tell.

Q. Are you into football/soccer at all?

My DJ is, so any inform­a­tion I need, he tells me. The same way I tell him about bas­ket­ball, he tells me about soc­cer. We exchange inform­a­tion. But my fath­er is from Trin­id­ad and he grew up play­ing soc­cer. The little that I knew I got from him.

Q. Do you ever vis­it Trin­id­ad?

Yeah I haven’t been since I got mar­ried in 2005 which was ten years ago. I haven’t been for a while.

Q. Sev­er­al pion­eer­ing Hip-Hop artists have roots in the Carib­bean. To what extent to you think that is influ­en­tial is devel­op­ing their styles?

It’s import­ant over­all as far as hip-hop is con­cerned being that the drums and things of that nature are from the Carib­bean. You have a pion­eer like Kool Herc who set off everything along with Bam­baata and Red Alert in the Bronx, the home of Hip-hop. He pretty much came over from Jamaica. It’s def­in­itely a mar­riage, just like sports and hip-hop is. All the drums, the rhythms so it’s def­in­itely import­ant. If you’re an emcee that hap­pens to be from the Carib­bean such as myself, KRS One, Big­gie, it was def­in­itely import­ant to us because it was already a part of our cul­ture. We didn’t have to force the issue to incor­por­ate it into what we were doing it as emcees. Not to men­tion we was already listen­ing to dif­fer­ent reg­gae artists all day any­way. New York is the home of hip-hop but in New York there’s also a bunch of people from all over the Carib­bean or the east coast for that mat­ter. It’s noth­ing new to us; it’s def­in­itely already in our DNA.

Q. What qual­it­ies do you admire or respect in oth­er people?
Just straight up hon­esty man. Hon­esty is the best policy, every­day all day. You can’t go wrong. You know where a per­son is com­ing from. And I like con­sist­ency too. At least I know if you are con­sist­ently a moody per­son, I know what to expect.

Q.  Talk­ing of hon­esty, how did Jarobi cry­ing in the doc­u­ment­ary feel? (For those who haven’t seen it, Jarobi cried when talk­ing about Phife’s sug­ar addic­tion and dia­betes tur­moil)

Ha ha ha, that’s funny! Well, he’s been one of my best friends since he was 12 and I was 13. So I couldn’t tell you the last time I seen him cry so for him to do that was like… I knew it was hon­est, it was sin­cere, but I wasn’t try­ing to cry along with it! But you know I teased him about it but I knew it was real.

Q. Some people con­sider one of the most beau­ti­ful moments in the doc­u­ment­ary and Hip-Hop because it was hon­est, genu­ine, broth­er­hood and con­cern

You know how cer­tain groups get togeth­er.  They don’t really know each oth­er. That’s not Tribe Called Quest. I’ve known Jarobi since I was 13. I’ve known Q tip since I was 2. I’ve known Ali since I was 13. Before we were a group, we were a fam­ily first. When you see some­thing like that go down, you know it’s sin­cere off top.

Q. So on to some laughter now… who’s the fun­ni­est per­son you’ve met in Hip-Hop?

The fun­ni­est per­son I’ve met in Hip-Hop would have to be Jarobi and all three mem­bers of De La Soul. And Busta.

Q. When was the last time you saw Busta?
Yeah I went to New York a month ago and I hung out with him at the stu­dio. He’s still same old crazy Busta, it’s good to see that.

Q. It’s actu­ally good to hear that! In terms of your solo work, what’s hap­pen­ing next?
I’m work­ing on my solo album at the moment. It’s called MUTTY­morPHos­is. I’m gonna drop a new a single in the fall maybe. And anoth­er one, the top of the year and then drop the album in spring.

Q. Did you man­age to get a beat from Erick Ser­mon?
Nah… I need to hit him up though. But it’s funny you said that though cuz I just spoke to DJ Scratch a couple of days ago so I’m sup­posed to get some­thing from him.

Q. Mov­ing on to some­thing a little ser­i­ous… What are your thoughts on Bal­timore, the revolt that is tak­ing place there and the over­all dis­pens­ab­il­ity of Black life in the USA?

It’s pretty depress­ing because I have a 19 year old and I gotta worry every day. So he doesn’t come to no situ­ation like that. It’s a mat­ter of pray­er. My moth­er calls every day to make sure we’re fine.  He’s a young black kid. He doesn’t cause any trouble but the way police are doing things these days is straight up wrong all across the board. We pray for him every day to make sure he’s in good hands. As far as Bal­timore, Fer­guson, the young lady in Detroit who got shot (Ren­isha McBride)… all those places where things have happened for the past two and half years. We have a right to march. Just so hap­pens that the movie Selma came out at a per­fect time.

 Q. How has mov­ing out to the West in the Sun helped your health?

That pretty much saved my life. When I got sick (dia­betes), I was still liv­ing in Atlanta. I still have a home in Atlanta. I met my wife in 1998 and I didn’t get sick until 2003. And she’s from Oak­land. So I even­tu­ally got out here in 2004 and we got mar­ried in 2005. The doc­tors were much bet­ter out here com­pared to Atlanta. That pretty much saved my life because I got the kid­ney out here from her. But now I need anoth­er one cuz it only las­ted a few years so I’m about to get a new one at the end of the year or the start of next year. I’m doing okay, it’s all good.

Q. What’s your favour­ite food to eat?

I like chick­en.  I like Trin­id­a­di­an food or soul food. I like chick­en, steak, fish. As far as sides I like green beans, black eyed peas. Stuff like that. I do my best to eat veget­ables. I’ve always been a veget­able per­son.

Q. Who are your favour­ite new emcees?
I like J Cole. I like Kendrick Lamar. Joey Badass and the whole Pro Era crew.

Q. What are your favour­ite flicks?
Pretty much all my favour­ite flicks are old school. Com­ing to Amer­ica. Also, I like Anchor Man a lot. I like any­thing with Will Fer­ell. I like Casino. I still watch Good­fel­las. Scar­face. I’m also into com­ed­ies. I love to laugh.

Q. Did you watch the film Fresh?
Yeah with the little boy? (Sean Nel­son) Yeah, yeah, yeah I met that kid a few years ago. He’s also in a movie called the Wood with Omar Epps. He’s grown now. The movie chron­icles him and two oth­er guys… Omar Epps and Richard Jones were in high school by then. He’s a very good act­or.

Q. What forces of nature would it take for anoth­er Tribe Called Quest tour or album?
I have no idea… you know, it was up to me, I’d be cool with it. But, like I said earli­er, you have to con­sider three oth­er people in the group. The same applies to wheth­er we get back togeth­er and do any­thing. I can’t speak on it oth­er than I would like it but it doesn’t look like it’s gonna hap­pen.

Q. Any final shoutouts?

The new album.. the sports show.. that’s about it, I think we went over everything!

 Catch Phife Dawg cour­tesy of the Doctor’s Orders at Plan B on Fri­day 22nd of May. For more inform­a­tion and tick­ets vis­it

By Wasif Sayyed 

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Wasif Sayyed

Wasif Sayyed

Wasif Sayyed’s many years as a writer, rap­per, pro­moter, ment­or and hip-hop pro­du­cer have shaped him into an enthu­si­ast­ic and insight­ful cul­tur­al cryp­to­graph­er. He loves read­ing and cook­ing, and can hear the whis­per of an unsheathed liquid sword from 50 paces. Twit­ter @WasifScion

About Wasif Sayyed

Wasif Sayyed
Wasif Sayyed's many years as a writer, rapper, promoter, mentor and hip-hop producer have shaped him into an enthusiastic and insightful cultural cryptographer. He loves reading and cooking, and can hear the whisper of an unsheathed liquid sword from 50 paces. Twitter @WasifScion

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