One of the bright lights of 1980s and 1990s hip-hop was extinguished on Tuesday with the death of A Tribe Called Quest’s Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor. In the group’s heyday, A Tribe Called Quest brought new levels of lyrical dexterity and sonic adventurousness to rap music, and they enjoyed several years of critical acclaim and commercial success before imploding in 1998.
The group’s influence reaches well beyond the ’90s, as demonstrated by an incredible new video showing reporter Mark Arum on Atlanta’s WSB-TV paying tribute to Phife in a slyly creative way. Freely quoting from the rapper’s most memorable lyrics, Arum peppers what would otherwise be an ordinary, workaday traffic update with nods to classic Tribe songs.
Songs referenced here include “Award Tour” (“Coming with more hits than the Braves and the Yankees” and numerous other lines), “Check The Rhime” (“Tell your mother, tell your father, send a telegram”), and “Oh My God” (“One for the treble, two for the bass”). Even without a single direct mention of Phife, it’s a strange and wonderful tribute.