September 26, 2021

Phife Dawg "Ventilation: Da LP" (September 26, 2000)

With Q-Tip already an established star and Ali Shaheed Muhammad scoring gold with his first post-A Tribe Called Quest project, Lucy Pearl, it's now Phife Dawg's turn to show and prove all by his lonesome. With Ventilation: Da LP, the five-foot assassin establishes himself as a streetwise iconoclast capable of mind-boggling vocal gymnastics. The album opens with a brief acoustic-guitar ditty that will make heads worry that Phife has gone soft--but only for about 45 seconds. A lyrical pyrotechnician, Phife wields the mike like a flamethrower, scorching listeners with hectic rhyme schemes that morph from one flow to another with true virtuosity. He tries on rap styles like most MCs try on sneakers, switching from the staccato assault of "Lemme Find Out" (featuring Pete Rock) to a singsongy old-school lilt on the unapologetically horny disco-flavored single "Ben Dova." On the album's best cut, "Alphabet Soup," Phife recalls the glory days of the Native Tongues but injects a harder edge. On "Beats, Rhymes & Phife," he looks back on growing up in a West Indian household in Queens, N.Y., and demonstrates that special mix of humor and intelligence that made Tribe famous. - Vibe (December, 2000). MTV deemed Phife's album "brilliant but ignored" ... don't make the same mistake! Revisit it below with production from Hi-Tek, Pete Rock, J Dilla (R.I.P.), Fredwreck and more.

Man, Phife Dawg is surely missed in Hip-Hop. Rest In Peace, 5-foot assassin...