Yesterday, Apple Music released “Nutshell,” the first advance track from Give Thanks, the solo album that Phife Dawg had been working on before his tragic passing two weeks ago. The song lacks much of the quotability of Phife’s verses for classic Tribe Called Quest, but maintains the rapper’s general affability, and glides over a beat from the late J Dilla that’s pure New York springtime. The song’s video, debuted at last night’s Celebration of Phife at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, also features testimony from rappers like Rakim, Redman, and De La Soul’s Posdnuous, talking about the legendary rapper and what he meant to them.
The Celebration of Phife also showcased a number of tributes from acolytes of Phife and Tribe’s, including Busta Rhymes, who Pitchfork reports gave a tearful speech honoring his former collaborator, and D’Angelo, who performed “You’ve Got a Friend” with the Roots. Kanye West was also in the building, of course, and paid homage to Phife with an eight-minute speech that touched on West’s days of listening to Tribe tapes in detention, and how much the group’s music inspired and ultimately “raised” him. (He also took umbrage at radio DJ Peter Rosenberg’s earlier comparison of Tribe with Led Zeppelin, saying “I don’t want to hear about Led Zeppelin tonight. I ain’t heard an album all the way through. Every time y’all started a record, the beginning, one line on the stereo, I threw the whole joint off.”)
Watch the “Nutshell” video and ‘Ye’s speech here.