Hip-hop artist and producer Kanye West gathered Tuesday night alongside fans and family members to pay tribute to A Tribe Called Quest rapper, Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor. Hundreds gathered at New York’s Apollo Theater to honor the notorious rapper, who died at 45 last month from diabetes-related complications.
West, a devoted A Tribe Called Quest fan who asked the group to open for him on his 2013 Yeezus tour, expressed how the rapper positively influenced him personally and lyrically, according to Rolling Stone. West reminisced about his childhood during the tribute:
“I might say something wrong as always, but I thought it’d be more wrong not to say nothing. 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…” he 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,” West said admiring the legendary rapper.
Although West has had his hands full in the first week since the release of his feature on Drake’s No. 1 single ‘Pop Style,’ which also features Jay Z, he found time to pay homage to Phife Dawg in his drawn out speech.
The tribute, according to Rolling Stone resembled a concert, as rappers and R&B singers blended a mix of the secular and pious. D’Angelo performed a spirited gospel-soul rendition of Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend,” backed by the Roots, while R&B singer Kelly Price belted out the traditional worship song “Because He Lives.”
The Roots frontman Black Thought incorporated some of Phife’s most famous lines into one verse, and later, KRS-One, flanked by hip-hop pioneers Kid Capri, Grandmaster Flash, Teddy Ted and Special K, honored the rapper with Boogie Down Productions’ “I’m Still #1” and a freestyle about Phife.
West concluded his speech by referencing his love for music and “honoring what hip-hop is.”
“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… I love y’all and I’m not sorry. Rest in Peace to Phife Dawg.”