The cats that chill at the Corner Store are pouring out a little liquor for the homie Phife Dawg of legendary Hip Hop duo A Tribe Called Quest who recently transitioned to the realm of the ancestors. It’s not a stretch to claim that this group is perhaps the greatest Hip Hop group ever or at least in the upper echelon.
Since this is primarily a sports blog I feel the need to explain how the loss of Malik the 5 foot freak is sports related. For those that may not know Phife was an avid sports fan. I remember when he came to Houston and popped up at the radio station. As he was famously known to do, Phife started free styling over an instrumental and made several references to Houston sports figures including former Major Leaguers Jeff Bagwell and Hall of Famer Craig Biggio. He was very knowledgeable with his commentary on Sports.
I didn’t want to spend much time talking about his lyrical proficiency or his love for sports as much as I wanted to address the illness that took him away from us in the physical sense. He battled diabetes for a very long time. In fact on the Busta Rhymes sample laced “Oh My God”, a track from the 1993 released LP Midnight Marauders, Phife spit the question “when’s the last time you heard a funky diabetic”.
Diabetes is a serious issue in the black community. There are many different theories as to why we as Black people in America are more susceptible to this disease than our neighbouring ethnic groups, but whatever the reason it’s killing us at an alarming rate.
My great grandmother, grandfather, and my father have dealt with diabetes. I saw my grandfather, who was the strongest most independent dude I knew, reduced to an overweight one legged depressed human being before he transitioned. My paternal aunt and younger 1st cousin also have what many Blacks call “sugar”.
I decided to change my eating habits and embark on a new journey that lead to me making better choices about what I allowed to go into and out of my mouth. I also monitored what kind of messages went into my ears. In most cases a healthy mind leads to a healthy body. And a healthy body makes obtaining peace of mind more attainable. Behaving like this caused my family to swear that I converted to Islam. I guess changing my English name to an African one didn’t help much.
These athletes that we give so much of our adoration to pay close attention to what they put into their bodies so maybe we need to take a que from them and do the same. Also losing Phife at the age of 45 can show us that you don’t have to be old to be snatched off of this Earth. And being famous doesn’t make one immune to dis-ease either. Phife’s death can be a blessing to those that use his life as a lesson to take better care of ourselves at a young age. Remember he was the funky diabetic in his early 20s.
#RIPPhife Dawg. Thank you for being an inspiration and example of emcee excellence to spitters like me.
12 will carry the torch.