Phife Dawg’s Dopest Reggae & Dancehall Quotables

Man Like Mutty Ranks Inna The Area

I woke up this morning in a pretty good mood until I heard the news that Phife Dawg had passed away. Although we all knew the 45-year-old “funky diabetic” had been battling health issues for years—he even addressed the fact in his touching music video “Dear Dilla”—the news still came as a shock. When I had the privilege of kickin’ it with A Tribe Called Quest last November, Q-Tip was mad late but Phife’s sense of humor shone through. While Tip was Tribe’s undisputed front man, sonic visionary, and certified genius, Phife was always my favorite. The group got better and more cohesive as he came into his own as a microphone controller. There was something about his hardboiled wit, the bluntness of his boasts, and his take-no-prisoners approach to competition—”steady eating booty MCs like cheese grits”—that never failed to bring a smile to my face. Plus the fact that he was always spitting some type of random patois. I knew that ATCQ were reggae fans, not just because of their “Chase Vampire” remix of “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo” but also because Jarobi used to hang out during my reggae sets on the rooftop of a five-story NYC club called Mars back in the day, but nobody repped Caribbean culture like Malik Isaac Taylor aka Phife Dawg aka Mutty Ranks, the Trini yute from Queens. Much will be written about this vastly under-rated and endlessly entertaining MC, but I’d like to focus on some of my favorite instances of the Five Foot Assassin coming with that Roughneck Business. Audio After The Jump…


On the autobiographical cut “Beats Rhymes & Phife” off his lone solo he reminisced about “Growing up in a West Indian household—it was real! All my Trini, Bajans, Haitians, Jamaicans, they know the deal!” No wonder Phife asked for “Roti and Soursop” on “Ham & Eggs” off Tribe’s debut disc. But it wasn’t until the sophomore album that he really got loose.

“Competition dem try fe come sideway /
But competition they must come straightway”

Song: “Jazz (We’ve Got)”
Album: ATCQ The Low End Theory (1991)
Source: Ninjaman “Murder Dem” (1990)

(later on the same tune Phife shouts out Shabba Ranks)

“She hotter than Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednigo”

Song: “The Infamous Date Rape”
Album: ATCQ The Low End Theory (1991)
Source: The Abyssinians “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo” (1975)

“Brothers Try to Flex—you’re not Mad Cobra”

Song: “Award Tour”
Album: ATCQ Midnight Marauders (1993)
Source: Mad Cobra “Flex” (1992)

“Livin’ mad fat like an oversized mampie”

Song: “Award Tour”
Album: ATCQ Midnight Marauders (1993)
Source: Greogry Peck “Oversize Mampie” (1990)

“You know what Live & Direct mean? It mean live & direct”

Song: “His Name Is Mutty Ranks”
Album: The Love Movement (2000)
Source: Aswad “Live & Direct” (1983)


Have you ever wondered what make a crowd rock? / Tribe Called Quest you know we do it Nonstop / Listen to the radio we’re never goin’ pop cause / You nuh ready for dis yet, bwoy!

Song: “His Name Is Mutty Ranks”
Album: ATCQ The Love Movement (1998)
Source: Tanya Stephens “Yuh Nuh Ready Fi Dis Yet” (1996)

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