On Tuesday afternoon, hundreds of fans, friends and hip-hop heavyweights gathered at the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem to pay their respects to Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest who passed away on March 22.

In addition to notable remarks from Kanye West and Busta Rhymes – and performances by The Roots and D’Angelo – it was perhaps the words of Andre 3000 who best summed up Phife’s impact on hip-hop.

While his remarks can be seen below, Three Stacks also revealed that there was a joint album planned between OutKast and A Tribe Called Quest that never came to fruition.

“Man, it’s about Phife. I wasn’t prepared to say anything, but it’s like, “Outkast would not be Outkast.” When we got our deal, we rapped for [Outkast producer] Rico Wade in the parking lot. The only thing me and Big [Boi] had was “Scenario” on cassette and we rapped for days, just going. And in high school, my first rap name was Jhaz because of these niggas. It was J-H-A-Z; I don’t know how I was thinking I was spelling that shit. [Crowd laughs.] Because of “Jazz (We’ve Got).” We would sit in high school and be like, “Man, we love them.”

I’m going to say some interesting news and some disappointing news at the same time. About a year or two ago, we were talking about doing a Tribe Called Quest and Outkast album. Yeah. For whatever reason, it did not happen. I don’t want to let the time go by, because you never know. And that’s one of the biggest things about regret. Whatever reason we didn’t do it, it was on our plate and we just… let it go for our own personal reasons.

Influence. Influence is really important. In the same way that we’re here because of you all, and it’s totally true. Man, our label tried so hard to make us Tribe. [Crowd laughs.] In our bio — we didn’t write the shit — they called me the poet and Big Boi the playa like it was some “Southern Tribe” shit. We didn’t like it; we just wanted to rap. But they wanted us to be Tribe so bad and we loved them niggas so bad, we were like, “We’ll be a street Tribe.” We’ll be robbin niggas. Imagine me tryin to rob a nigga. [Crowd laughs.] We wanted to be “hood Tribe.” I guess that’s what we ended up being, in a way.

But influence. I had a conversation with Tip and it shocked the shit out of me. One day, he said, ‘When y’all came out as Outkast, I knew that the tides had changed. I knew rap had changed.” And I knew what he was talking about because when I see [Lil] Wayne and Young Thug, I’m like, “Ohhh, I can’t keep up with that shit. It’s so dope.” It’s the connection. They’re them because of us and it has to keep going. All this old niggas hatin on the young niggas, that shit got to stop. It’s all music. It’s all influence. It’ll keep going because we’re all connected.

I don’t have no big message or speech or nothing but just, “Keep that shit going.” And Tribe meant everything to me. They are everything. It’s always, “Who are the greatest groups?” Fuck that shit. [Points to Tribe Called Quest.] This dude [Q-Tip] taught me what kind of rapper I wanted to be. My first rap, I remember it now, it was “Young and naive/Alive I keep the dream/Writin’ funky lyrics at the age of 16.” I wrote it because of you. [Points to Q-Tip.] I didn’t even know what the word naive meant. [Crowd laughs.] Q-Tip taught me words. “Elation.” I’m sitting in high school like, “Damn I gotta look this shit up.” “I’m filled with elation.” Ohhhhh, okay. We can use these words too? We can be smart? Yeah, man. He gave me fuel. And I gotta give the young niggas fuel. We gotta quit hatin’ on each other. To Phife.”

Words by Alec Banks
Features Editor

Alec Banks is a Los Angeles-based long-form writer with over a decade of experience covering fashion, music, sports, and culture.

What To Read Next