Phife Dawg’s time on this planet was all too short, but the A Tribe Called Quest member knew how to live. A casual spin through his catalogue will unearth a number of rewind worthy gems that should make their way into any daily survival syllabus. From the profane to the profound, here are 15 Life Lessons from Phife’s lyrics.
1.“I come correct in full effect, have all my hoes in check/And before I get the butt the jim must be erect.” —“Check The Rhime”
Ever try to have a sword fight with a garden hose? Right. You get the point. So to make sure that she gets it too, eat whatever you have to (including your girl) to unleash your Krakken.
2. “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.” — “Check The Rhime”
Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness, plain and simple.
3.“If my mom don’t approve, then I’ll just elope/ Let me save the little man from inside the boat.” –“Electric Relaxation”
As hard as this is to swallow, when you choose a wife, mom becomes the #2 woman in your life. Which means going against her wishes sometimes. But when you do jump the broom be prepared to swim, because that little man will need rescuing quite often if you want to stay happy.
4. “N*ggaz know the time when the Quest is in the jam/I never let a statue tell me how nice I am.” – “Award Tour”
Tribe was nominated for two best rap album Grammys in 1997 and 1999 for Beats Rhymes & Life and The Love Movement respectively, but never won. The category didn’t exist until 1996, meaning their highly coveted first three albums were not eligible for that distinction. The moral of the story is don’t let formal accolades determine your greatness.
5.“I know some brothers wonder, can Phifer really kick it?
Some even wanna dis me, but why sweat it?” —“The Jazz (We Got)”
I’m rubber and you’re glue, my shit got bounce and your shit sticks to doo-doo.
6. “Sit back relax and let yourself go/Don’t sweat what you heard, but act like you know” “Scenario”
This is a major key. Don’t ever give weight to bullshit, but be aware. No one needs high blood pressure over Tweets anyway.
7. “Rappin is an art, coming straight from the heart/so forget the chart because the action can start…” — “Hot Sex”
Again, like the trophies and awards, chart positions should not be the deciding factor in your creative decisions. Make something you love and the success you seek will come.
8. “My man Al B. Sure, he’s in effect mode, used to have a crush on Dawn from En Vogue/it’s not like honey dip would wanna get with me, but just in case I own more condoms than T.L.C.” — “Oh My God”
A condom is like a gun, it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
9. “I never walk the streets, think it’s all about me/Even though deep in my heart, it really could be” —“Buggin Out”
That thin line between confidence and arrogance is a crack in the sidewalk of life. Don’t trip on it.
10. “Believe that if you wanna but I tell you this much/Riding on the train with no dough, sucks.” — “Buggin Out”
As a NYC commuter nothing resonated with me more than this line. You spend your last bit of change to get on the dang iron horse with no idea what you’re going to do when you reach your destination. Or how you were going to get back.
11.“If you can’t achieve it, then why not try and weave it?/If you can’t extend it then you might as well suspend it/If you can’t braid it, best thing to do is fade it” —“Butter”
If we’re being honest, Phife’s blunt honesty may have been a catalyst for the natural hair movement as we know it.
12. “Party animal I was, but now I chill at home/ All I do is write rhymes, eat, drink, shit and bone” —“Vibes And Stuff”
At some point those dancing feet will be up on that couch….that you bust off on. Embrace the washed life. It evidently keeps you regular.
13. “Most of you suckers wanna be down for the tag along/The friggin fame, someone tell em that this shit ain’t games/You gots to do this from your heart meaning your inner soul/And if it’s real only then will you be on a roll”— “1nce Again”
You want fame? Well fame costs. And here is where you pay…
14. “I’m a negro, he’s a negro, wanna be a negro too? But beatin on a woman, is somethin that a puss would do” — We Got The Jazz (Re-Recording)
In the midst of this gangstafied rework of the decidedly subdued original, Phife takes a break from the knuckle-cracking to remind his brothers that you can still take the bravado too far. Nicely done.
15. “So meet me at the T-wolves game tonight/ center court so I can give you the surprise of your life/What kind of man would I be if I didn’t make it right/ eff that/ you gonna be my charm for life…” “Let Me Be The One,” (Ummah Remix) Mint Condition
If you’re going to pop the question, go big.