Since it’s release, A Tribe Called Quest’s We got it from Here... Thank You 4 Your service has been filling a gap in hip-hop that’s been empty for the better part of two decades. As far as “comebacks” go, We got it from here... was the ATCQ farewell everyone needed, but considering the gravity of Phife Dawg's passing, the album was as much a sobering reminder of our loss as it was a celebration of his final moments.
During the ceremony for Phife’s memorial street naming in Queens, the legendary emcee’s wife spoke during a press interview, in which she confirmed that a Phife Dawg solo album is in the works and that it will hopefully be released early next year.
His solo album will be out probably sometime during the first quarter of 2017. We’re working on it now. He completed his entire solo album before he transitioned, so we’re excited about releasing that.
The prospect of a final solo release from Phife Dawg is certainly exciting, but whenever a legend of Phife’s caliber leaves music behind after their passing, there’s an innate fear of their posthumous legacy being tarnished by sub-par releases.
Given the universal praise surrounding ATCQ’s final album, there’s an added pressure to make sure Phife’s legacy doesn’t suffer the same fate as so many other artists whose posthumous releases have fallen flat, especially considering how Phife's wife described his creative groove during the making of We got it from here...:
There were times where he was working on the album where he would send me video footage of him rhyming over some of the beats that you would hear on the album. He would make a certain face when hearing the beat, he would make this frown like ‘I’m feeling this,’ and you would hear his verses in the back. He was really excited about this project.
Other revered names like Tupac and Biggie have suffered the fates of poorly executed posthumous releases, subjected to corny production, off-base collaborations, and shameless money grabs that let quality take a backseat to the wishes of greedy estates.
In Phife’s case, it’s comforting to hear his wife explain that he had the album all but finished before his passing, so hopefully it’s just a matter of mixing and mastering his already completed works. Another point of hope is the loyalty of the surviving members of ATCQ as well as close affiliates like Busta Rhymes and Consequence, though it's unclear whether any of those were actively involved in the creation of Phife's solo LP.
Busta has been instrumental in helping keep J Dilla’s legacy alive and well—a rare instance of an artist’s legacy being preserved correctly. We can only hope that he’ll be as integral to the preservation of Phife’s legacy. Earlier this year, we were treated to "Nutshell," a Dilla-produced gem from Phife that served as the first preview of his solo project.
Following the fantastic execution of Tribe’s final album, expectations are rightfully high for the quality of Phife’s final solo album. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that Phife’s legendary life is honored with one last wonderful hoorah.
By Brent Bradley. Follow him on Twitter.
Photo Credit:Rolling Stone