Phife Dawg (Malik Taylor, the 5 Foot Freak) died on March 22, 2016. And yes, I am extremely saddened. A group that became a musical soundtrack for my youth lost one of its members. The impending trending topic and social media responses ensued. In fact, I saw so many different types of people worldwide give the exact same account: Phife Dawg helped them get through it.
What’s the worst part for me is that I found out he died early on my birthday (March 23, 2016).
Phife Dawg and The Effect Of This Day
I was actually looking forward to turning 38. Just the day before, a friend posted “Find A Way” for Facebook’s listening pleasure. Not for nothing, J. Dilla productions always put me at ease. This particular song always takes me back to the days of chilling on the yard ofAlabama State University during an energetic spring time. I wanted to thank my friend for activating such pleasant memories.
Now, I am resisting the urge to not that my feelings of mortality are overwhelming me.
Phife Dawg and the Resurrection of Fleeting Nostalgia
To be fair, it isn’t all sadness on this side of town. I am allowed to revel in the greatness and fashion trends from “Check The Rhyme”. Also, I get to remember how subtly sexual “Electric Relaxation” could capture ears enough to be TV show theme music. Even further, “Award Tour” allows me to call Phife Dawg “Dynomutt”. The flooding memories does have hints of happiness I will always hold onto.
Still, situations like this can bring an anxiety over me. Point blank: I am getting old. Realizing that the world is changing into a place I barely recognize causes a feeling of social dementia. Being within a space I am slowly becoming disconnected from is never a great feeling. I began to ask myself “Is there going to be anything identifiable of the world I exist in”?
Now, I fear the day and time where the social dementia may become too widespread. How many younger people will really appreciate that ATCQ dropped three arguable classics in a row? Will people truly appreciate that Phife Dawg’s increase in output directly affected ATCQ’s popularity, sales, and success? How many young hip hop heads will truly recite the enormous amounts of hip hop quotables from the 5 Foot Assassin? Are we going to allow his greatness to go down the drain with sweet memories?
And then there is the issue of being healthy. Phife was 45 years old and died from diabetes complications. My father also had diabetes, but he died at age 71. Still, I have seen so many other emcees and musicians die from health complications at their early to mid 40’s. Again: I just turned 38 years old. If I wasn’t the “workout warrior” that I have become, then I would be in the throngs of bad health myself.
Phife Dawg Lives Forever In Music?
I know some of these concerns may be farfetched. However, they are concerns nonetheless. In a time of attention deficits matched with lack of historical recollection, I tend to worry about times changing into the unrecognizable. Additionally, there are health concerns that come with my age range. In the end, I don’t ever want to lose the feelings Phife Dawg gave me because I fear the future culture curators won’t be able to remind me.