Legendary A Tribe Called Quest rapper Phife Dawg, who died in 2016, looks back on his life and career in the new video for his song “Forever,” directed by Tony Reames and Dion “Rasta Root” Liverpool.
“Forever” is drawn from Phife’s just-released posthumous album of the same name, which was completed after his death by Liverpool and features guest spots from Tribe members Q-Tip and Busta Rhymes, members of De La Soul and Redman, among others.
“When I first heard ‘Forever’, I was not prepared for the depth and honesty. It took me a long time to let it all sink in,” Reames says. “DJ Rasta Root came up with the idea of personal photos and videos to match the message for the video. The lyrics are also all in Phife’s own handwriting. We scanned in a lot of his writings to create a font as if Phife himself was telling you the story. I’m forever grateful to be around Phife, his family and everyone we met along the way.”
On the track, which samples both Outkast’s “Ms. Jackson” and Wu-Tang Clan’s “Triumph,” Phife, whose real name was Malik Izaak Taylor, acknowledges the interpersonal turmoil that derailed Tribe’s promising career in the ‘90s after the classic albums The Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders.
“Had no idea me and my boy would bump heads (damn) / If I could do it all over again / I’d sit down with my friend / Was zero reason why this shit had to end,” he raps. “Lack of communication killed my Tribe / Bad vibes, hence the reason last two albums took a straight nose dive / Truth be told, fans kept us alive / Despite trials, tribe-ulations, no doubt, we were built to survive.”
Deemed the “Five-Foot Assassin” due to his short stature, Phife was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus in May 1990 and passed away due to complications from the disease at the age of 45 on March 22, 2016. Some of his last recordings were on Tribe’s surprise 2016 comeback album We Got It From Here … Thank You for Your Service, the group’s first since 1998.