Kanye West decided to pay respects to the late Phife Dawg. Phife was part of the iconic rap group A Tribe Called Quest. The musician, born Malik Taylor, died of complications due to diabetes at 45-years-old.
Many artists of rap and R&B who looked up to A Tribe Called Quest attended a service at New York’s Apollo Theater to pay tribute to the late musician. Many stars, aside from West, included Lauryn Hill, LL Cool J, Andre 3000, Chuck D, Busta Rhymes, and more.
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In addition to West, D’Angelo, The Roots, and Grandmaster Flash performed to honor the late rapper. Members of A Tribe Called Quest, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Q-Tip, and Jarobi, spoke a few words about their late friend and collaborator.
During the four-hour ceremony, Kanye West eulogized Phife Dawg for eight minutes. Those that are familiar with West know that the rapper is never brief while addressing an audience, and this wasn’t any different. While West has claimed that he’s the greatest rapper alive, the rapper took some time to pay his respects to Phife Dawg.
In his speech, West said without artists gathered in the room, he wouldn’t have a career. He specifically highlighted Taylor’s influence.
“When I see the power in this room…Low End Theory was the first album I ever bought and I stayed in the suburbs of Chicago with my stepfather,” West said. “I’d always get into trouble for listening to music during the week and then I would have to go to detention or study hall, but I enjoyed it ’cause I had that Tribe tape and it didn’t really matter how long that walk was.”
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Then, per usual, the speech turned into a rant that highlighted his lavish lifestyle.
“I live next to the dentist. I stay in a $20 million crib next to the dentist. Dave Chappelle, you know what I’m talking about. We had an event a year ago and I would just go over to Tip’s house like when they was [sic] doing Low End Theory and Pete Rock came down. And I be at these events in Hollywood and I be at these events here and I’m looking at how many more people inspire us and the walls that we have on our finances.”
West then backtracked and apologized and said that was just on his mind before going in another direction.
“Music was stolen from us and corporatized and anybody that spoke up was demonized. Anything I ever did wrong, blame Tip and Phife ’cause y’all raised me.”
He continued, “Tribe made Kanye West. Made the kid with the pink Polo. Made it so I could dress funny. I’m not sorry if I said something wrong.”
Later on, West imagined that Phife will get short changed by the Grammys during next year’s “In Memoriam.” The rapper went on to compare it to when Michael Jackson’s tribute at the Grammys, which he said was short. As some might remember, Jennifer Hudson, Celine Dion, Smokey Robinson, Usher, and Carrie Underwood performed in tribute to the late and great singer at the 52nd Grammy Awards.
West ended his eulogy by saying, “They gotta honor us; honor what hip-hop is. It should not be surprising to you when the sports announcer [Scott Van Pelt] was influenced by Tribe. That should not be a surprise! That’s the absolute truth! I love y’all and I’m not sorry. Rest in peace to Phife Dawg.”
[Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Yeezy Season 3]