A Tribe Called Quest is expected to appear on the charts with a new album for the first time in 18 years, and the group is also poised for representation on New York’s streets courtesy of the late Phife Dawg. Saturday marked the unveiling of Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor Way at the intersection of Linden Blvd. and 192nd St. in Queens, NY.
Fellow A Tribe Called Quest Member Q-Tip was on hand along with Busta Rhymes, who appeared on The Low End Theory, The Love Movement, and We Got It From Here... Thank You 4 Your Service. Michael Rapaport, who directed the 2011 documentary Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest, captured the unveiling via Twitter. Bystanders chanted Phife’s name as a covering sheath was removed to display the commemorative street below the sign for Linden Blvd., and Q-Tip also addressed the crowd on hand.
“This is no coincidence,” Q-Tip said. “This is divine order. So I want everybody to remember this album we put out has nothing to do with us…fame and notoriety. It’s for reason and purpose. That same reason and purpose is instilled and embedded in every one of you. Don’t give up. Don’t give up. Don’t feel bad because you have to sometimes do what you have to do to survive and to do better for yourself and your family.”
Ms. Cheryl Boyce-Taylor detailed how her son grew up in the surrounding Queens area and what such a tribute would mean to him had he still been alive. Queens—particularly the intersection of Linden Blvd. and 192nd St.—was a fixture in A Tribe Called Quest’s rhymes, most notably on “Check The Rhime,” “Steve Biko (Stir It Up)” and “1nce Again.” Councilman Daneek Miller, of New York’s 27th District, was also on hand and spoke to the influence Phife Dawg had on Queens.
“We occasionally do these street re-namings, and this is by far the largest one I’ve seen anywhere in the city,” Miller said. “What I also know is there are folks from all over the country that wanted to be here to share moments…their personal moments, and just be here to be a part of this legacy.”
Miller also linked A Tribe Called Quest’s musical legacy with that of Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald and Lena Horne.
Highlights of the naming ceremony can be found below in video shot by Tee Smith, who was a co-organizer of a large ATCQ 3-D mural that was also unveiled at the event.
The mural was put together by Vincent Ballentine and Good Wood NYC, and installed by J. Murray Corp. In addition to Smith, it was organized by Ed Stevens and curated by LeRoy McCarthy for Heterodoxx Inc. The Hip Hop Discussion Group helped out with finances. The cost of the 3-D faces themselves was covered by longtime Tribe collaborator Busta Rhymes. Joe Wharton, a longtime friend of Phife's, arranged Busta's involvement.
Phife Dawg died on Mar. 22, 2016 at the age of 45 of complications from diabetes. In June of 2016, the New York City Council formally voted to name the intersection of 192nd St. and Linden Blvd in the St. Albans sections of Queens as Malik “Phife Dawg’” Taylor Way.