Queens is the county, Jamaica is the place where fans gathered to celebrate the life and storied career of Phife Dawg.
Announced Sunday as a chance for A Tribe Called Quest heads to reminisce on Phife’s legacy, hundreds of people took to St. Albans Memorial Park in Queens, N.Y. to pay their respects.
Born Malik Isaac Taylor in 1970, he first met his group mates Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad while in high school, and would later meet the group’s ”Sometimes Y”; Jarobi White. In the late ’80s and ’90s, the group was one of the first to challenge gangsta, machismo rap by avoiding gun talk and rhyming about their adventures in Queens, N.Y.
And many of those adventures happened in the areas surrounding the St. Albans park.
The jazz-infused tracks produced some of rap’s most monumental albums in its golden era, and influenced generations to not be afraid to use instruments such as horns in their tracks.
But the influence didn’t stop there.
A Tribe Called Quest’s signature cover art for the albums Midnight Marauders and The Low End Theory feature crooked red and green lines of paint have become synonymous with the Queens group. While one fan at the event donned a heart-shaped pin with the memorable pattern on it, another took things two steps further with the A Tribe Called Quest inspired Jordan 1s.
The tribute began promptly at 10:30 A.M with the first 200 fans receiving Phife Dawg t-shirts and some even got tickets to an upcoming show.
Though a dreary day, the mood wasn’t dampened as plenty of portable speakers could be heard playing Tribe’s “Oh My God” and countless Nas songs.
It was clear that it wasn’t a time to be sad, but to be happy for the 45 years Phife spent with us.
“We need to get some music going on around here. To celebrate. This is a celebration,” said one fan as he bobbed back and forth not only to the music but to stay warm on the oddly cold April day.
“I grew up listening to him, you know, the music is very dear to me, and I just came to show my support. I went to school in Brooklyn. But I’m from queens. [He] made Queens cool,” said a fan by the name of Big Mel.
Supporters also took the opportunity to dust off the plastic covered albums and show off some artwork inspired by the 5 footer and his comrades.
Phife lives on not only through the outpouring of respect he’s received from his Queens cohorts, but by all the fans around the world who love and appreciate what A Tribe Called Quest did for hip-hop.