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Phife Dawg’s 50 Best Opening Lines on A Tribe Called Quest Verses

The hip-hop legend from the boulevard of Linden always knew how to make an entrance

picture-22979-1414617206Andrew Unterberger // March 23, 2016

Few MCs in the history of hip-hop took less time to make an impression than the man born Malik Taylor. Whether you first heard him promising to never half-step as a guest rapper on De La Soul’s “Buddy” remix in 1989, or interrupting A Tribe Called Quest leader Q-Tip’s dominance of the group’s first album with his layers-flow on “Can I Kick It?” in ’90, or dissing the country’s most badass athlete on “Scenario” in ’91, it never took more than a line for the Phife Dawg to be totally unforgettable.

To pay tribute to one of our favorite rappers of the ’90s after his tragic and entirely premature death at age 45 yesterday, we’ve rounded up our 50 favorite verse-openers from Phife’s time in the Tribe. (Sorry, the critical re-evaluation of 2000 solo album Ventilation: Da LP will have to wait for another day.) Guest verses were acceptable as long as Tip and/or the rest of Tribe were also featured on said track, and multiple Phife lyrics from the same song were considered when he had more than one verse-opener worthy of inclusion. Read on below, and raise a Dr. Pepper to the 5’0″ assassin’s 50 best.

50. “Now drop the beat, for the Phifer from A Tribe Called Quest / When I see Buddy, I will never half step” (De La Soul “Buddy” Remix, 12-inch single, 1989)

49. “See, I’m not the one to be taken advantage of / And if you really think about it, I got nothin’ but love” (“Common Ground (Get It Going On),” The Love Movement, 1998)

48. “A-yo swing swing swing, to chop chop chop / Yo that’s the sound when MC’s get mopped” (“Keep It Rollin’,” Midnight Marauders, 1993)

47. “Sitting on the dock, fin’ to make a wish / Muhammad oh Muhammad, damn you’re quite a dish” (“Mr. Muhammad,” People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, 1990)

46. “I’m not your average MC with the Joe Schmoe flow / If you don’t know me by now, you’ll never know” (“We Can Get Down,” Midnight Marauders, 1993)

45. “Then he introduced me to that hydro smoke / Then I took one toke, yo, I almost choked” (“Jam,” Beats, Rhymes and Life, 1996)

44. “Here comes your royal highness, one of Queens’ finest / Believe me, honest, you know you can’t stop it” (“Peace, Prosperity & Paper,” High School High OST, 1996)

43. “The batteries I use are called Duracell / They last for three weeks so they do me well” (“Skypager,” The Low End Theory, 1991)

42. “Now drop the beat, so I can talk about my favorite tastings / The food that is the everlasting” (“Ham ‘N’ Eggs,” People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, 1990)

41. “Question, why is that MCs be wack? / And major labels wanna sign all that crap, a-yo funk that!” (“One Two Shit,” “Oh My God” single, 1994)

40. “Attitude is how I get my point across / You can’t call yourself an MC if you know that you’re soft” (“Word Play,” Beats, Rhymes and Life, 1996)

39. “Yes, dread, I had a similiar situation / When this kid tried to tell me I didn’t deserve my occupation” (“Phony Rappers,” Beats, Rhymes and Life, 1996)

38. “Once the pen hits the pad it’s danger / To this I be no stranger / Step inside the ring and I’ll derange ya” (The Fugees’ “Rumble in the Jungle,” When We Were Kings OST, 1996)

37. “No need for introductions, ’cause I know you know my name and / Knocking MCs out the frame and putting them suckers to shame and” (De La Soul’s “Sh. Fe. MCs,” Clear Lake Auditorium EP, 1994)

36. “Competition dem try fe come side way / But competition they must come straight way” (“Jazz (We’ve Got),” The Low End Theory, 1991)

35. “Now, all that Glock totin’ trash you talk will not prevail / It’s stale, you’ll either be dead or in jail” (“Mind Power,” Beats, Rhymes and Life, 1996)

34. “The mad man Malik makes MCs run for Milk of Magnesia / Maybe that’ll ease ya” (“Baby Phife’s Return,” Beats, Rhymes and Life, 1996)

33. “Original rude boy, never am I coy / You can be a shorty in my ill convoy” (“Electric Relaxation,” Midnight Marauders, 1993)

32.“Check it here, peep the four-man transaction / Phife diggy Dawg, we on some Todd Shaw mackin'” (“Steppin’ It Up,” The Love Movement, 1998)

31. “There’s a million MCs that claim they want some / But see I create sounds that make your ears go numb” (“God Lives Through,” Midnight Marauders, 1993)

30.“F**k the car-jacking, Phife Diggy is rapping / Got dawgs with love and plus dawgs that’s packin'” (“Busta’s Lament,” The Love Movement, 1998)

29. “Aw shucks, look what the cat hauled in / It’s Phife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest, let me begin” (“Show Business,” The Low End Theory, 1991)

28. “Ayo who wanna pull on Phifer long time no hear from / Suckers walkin’ around talking about they could get some” (“Hot Sex,” Boomerang OST, 1992)

27. “I fought my shit up on Linden in the one-nine-two / Forever writing never biting ain’t shit else to do” (“1nce Again,” Beats, Rhymes and Life, 1996)

26. “Linden Boulevard represent, represent / Tribe Called Quest represent, represent” (“Steve Biko (Stir It Up),” Midnight Marauders, 1993)

25. “And let it just happen, make it front-free / Just sweat me like Moneypenny” (“Find a Way,” The Love Movement, 1998)

24. “Can I kick it? / To my Tribe that flows in layers / Right now, Phife is a poem-sayer” (“Can I Kick It?,” People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, 1990)

23. “One for the treble, two for the bass / You know the style Tip, it’s time to flip this” (“Oh My God,” Midnight Marauders, 1993)

22. “My Tribe be worldwide like the Nike swoosh / MCs be soundin’ moist like vagina juice” (“Pad and Pen,” The Love Movement, 1998)

21. “1988, Senior Year, Garvey High / Where all the guys were corny but the girls were mad fly” (“Butter,” The Low End Theory, 1991)

20. “Put one up for the Phifer, it’s time to decipher / The ills of the world make the situation lighter” (“Push It Along,” People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, 1990)

19. “This is the year that I come in and just devastate / My style is great, ask your peoples can I dominate?” (“1nce Again,” Beats, Rhymes and Life, 1996)

18. “Brothers know the flavs when the Quest gets loose / Slamming sucker f**kers like the wrestler Zeus” (“Clap Your Hands,” Midnight Marauders, 1993)

17. “Now every dog has his day, but ‘F’ that, it’s my year / All you gat-pullin’ MCs could never come near” (“The Pressure,” Beats, Rhymes and Life, 1996)

16. “When I was young I’d stretch gouch, yo / Now I’m on Letterman, on the couch yo” (“Da Booty,” The Love Movement, 1998)

15. “Just last week my girl was stressin’ me / Now her best friend be undressing me” (“8 Million Stories,” Midnight Marauders, 1993)

14. “Uh huh, you know the science, you get buckwild / Runnin mad games as if your name was Scott Skiles” (“The Infamous Date Rape,” The Low End Theory, 1991)

13. “I know it’s been two years but see the Tribe was never fallin’ / Would have tried for singin’ but that stuff was not my calling” (“Lyrics to Go,” Midnight Marauders, 1993)

12. “This girl from my past had ridiculous ass / She attended UMass and she passed every class” (“Hot 4 U,” The Love Movement, 1998)

11. “Back in days on the boulevard of Linden / We used to kick routines and the presence was fittin'” (“Check the Rhime,” The Low End Theory, 1991)

10. “We be the crew that presents to the wicked instrumental / Damaging your mental from here to Sacramento” (“Motivators,” Beats, Rhymes and Life, 1996)

9. “I remember when girls were goody two shoes but now they turning freaks / All of a sudden (“We love you, Phife”) / Ease off ho, my name’s Malik” (“Butter,” The Lowe End Theory, 1991)

8. “You see you, your career is done like Johnny Carson’s / Get me vexed, I do like Left Eye, start an arson” (“The Hop,” Beats, Rhymes and Life, 1996)

7. “I like ‘em brown, yellow, Puerto Rican or Haitian / Name is Phife Dawg from the Zulu Nation” (“Electric Relaxation,” Midnight Marauders, 1993)

6. “Heyo, Bo knows this, and Bo knows that / But Bo don’t know jack, ’cause Bo can’t rap” (“Scenario,” The Low End Theory, 1991)

5. “Now here’s a funky introduction of how nice I am / Tell your mother, tell your father, send a telegram” (“Check the Rhime,” The Low End Theory, 1991)

4. “Back in ’89 I simply slid in the place / Buddy, buddy, buddy all up in your face” (“Award Tour,” Midnight Marauders, 1993)

3. “Went to Carvel to get a milk shake / This honey ripped me off for all my loot cakes” (“8 Million Stories,” Midnight Marauders, 1993)

2.“(Damn Phife, you got fat!) / Yeah, I know it looks pathetic / Ali Shaheed Muhammad got me doing calisthenics” (“The Chase Pt. II,” Midnight Marauders, 1993)

1.“Yo, microphone check one, two, what is this? / The five foot assassin with the roughneck business” (“Buggin’ Out,” The Low End Theory, 1991)