Last night, thousands of hip hop heads gathered at the Apollo Theater to celebrate the life of Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest. The tribute was a follow up to the hundreds of fans who showed up at St. Albans Park to honor his music that still lives on today. Kanye West, D’Angelo, The Roots, Lauryn Hill and Andre 3000 amongst so many others were also in attendance to show support. And while a lot went down at the event, one of the most memorable moments might have been Kanye West’s very heartfelt tribute speech. While Kanye is known for not biting his tongue, in times of tragedy and tough situations, he’s also known for sharing some important gems. Gems that we’ll too one day look back on and truly appreciate him for. While you can replay the full-stream here, I really wanted to focus more on Kanye’s speech as it really hit home for me. “Anything I ever did wrong, Blame Tip & Phife cause y’all raised me.” While there may never be another time like the era of 90’s hip hop, Phife Dawg represented the pinnacle of it. It inspired Kanye to get through his everyday life living in Chicago. Inspired him to have enough courage to rock the pink polo, and most importantly, inspired him musically. “I was sitting here thinking about how much these people inspired me and how powerful the influence of the music was. And how it made that walk to study hall so short. How it meant everything. It is everything. Music was stolen from us..and corporatized. And anybody that’s spoke up was demonized.”
What’s also worth noting is how powerful this moment was in history. Some of hip hop’s pioneers and game changers all gathered in one room, not for an award show, or for some high profile event, but to carry on the life and legacy of Phife Dawg, at Black owned Apollo Theater. It’s a reflection of what moments will continue to come if our culture remains intact by us. RIP Phife Dawg.