PHIFE DAWG, born Malik Taylor, needs no introduction to most, who already know him as an emcee from golden-era hiphop act A Tribe Called Quest. This solo tour arrives at a fortuitous time for fans, considering the recent release of the documentary Beats, Rhymes, and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest, a film where director Michael Rapaport compares Tribe to the Rolling Stones, as both groups have been wildly influential and almost universally respected within their genres.
To extend that analogy, one could make the case that Phife, the self-described "Five-Foot Assassin," played the Keith Richards role, bringing a gritty street credibility to the group as a balance to Q-Tip's Jagger-esque control-freak tendencies. Consider that both duos have a history dating back to childhood, a foundation of friendship that allows them to respect and infuriate each other—to the point of not being able to coexist peacefully in the same room together—and the comparison seems even more apt.
Musical comparisons aside, it will be interesting to witness what the newest incarnation of Phife Diggy will be, as his 2000 release Ventilation: Da LP is his only solo recording to date. The Five Footer has been very transparent about being a sports head first and a musician second, and the last decade has found him employed as an assistant basketball coach and recruiter for South Kent high school in Connecticut, as well as coach of a 13-and-under AAU squad in his current hometown of Oakland. That said, the much-anticipated Songs in the Key of Phife, Volume 1: Cheryl's Big Son is set to drop this year, so perhaps we will be privy to some new material.
Regardless of the repertoire, the chance to witness a legend in such an intimate venue is in itself its own reward. Can he kick it?