Thursday, March 31, 2016

Life is a weird confluence of events is it not?

As I sat down to start the this entry I realized my last blog post involved a video of Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest, being named the first artistic director of Hip-Hop at the Kennedy Center. Five days later, Phife Dog, the Scottie Pippen of Tribe, died due to complications from diabetes. Two weeks before either one of those announcements, the wife and I caught the tail end of Beats, Rhymes and Life documentary about Tribe. After we watched about five minutes of it, the wife and I started discussing whether Phife or Q-tip were more responsible for the demise of the group. Then we talked about how sad it was that they both seemed incapable of making anymore of the memorable music that so many folks in our generation had grown dependent on from 1990-1998 (such a short span of greatness by the way).

One night before Phife died, I took the time to watch yet another documentary on Organized Noize (the folks who produced OutKast, Goodie Mob and others), and I was just caught up in all kinds of early-to-mid 90s nostalgia about OutKast, Goodie Mob and my college years as a whole. And I remember being struck by the stark differences in how some of these artists had changed in the 20 years since we first "met" them. As I am writing this I am wondering why the hell I would be so naive to think I would change and age in 20 years but my favorite artists would somehow stay stagnant for my convenience. It does not quite work that way I know, but I never said my line(s) of thoughts were always rational, now did I?

The thing that struck me about the Organized Noise documentary--which ironically was one of the same things that struck me about the Tribe doc--is that Big Boi and Andre did all of their interviews separately. Now I understand that folks are generally more comfortable discussing group dynamics without members of the group being in their presence, but I would have liked to see some interviews where OutKast and Tribe appeared in their respective entirety. It never happened though. And for Outkast, when I listened to their interviews during this documentary, and I combined that with what I heard in the countless interviews I heard from them the past 5 years or so, I was convinced that OutKast would never record again. Like Tribe, I expected OutKast to do tours, tv shows, the Budweiser Superfest (which needs to come back) and other appearance that basically amount to teases. But there would be no new album to look forward to buying, dubbing or previewing on Spotify or Tidal. I even texted my brother to tell him to watch the documentary, and that 'Kast was done. He texted me back and said he'd watch it soon.

The very next text I received from my brother came at about 3:45am, and I didn't see it until 4:45 when I woke up, and it simply said, "Man, I am hurt over Phife. Damn". I suspected that Phife died but as most folks do, I scoured the Internet and Twitter for confirmation, and I saw that he had indeed passed away. For the next several days, I found myself playing not only Tribe, but all the music from my high schoo and college days--of course I honed in on Tribe stuff. I played songs, I downloaded tributes and compliations, I rewatched the documentary, videos and I did every damn thing I could do to fulfill my need to be nostalgic.

I didn't cry over Phife's death, but there was a sadness hanging over me for a few days. It felt like a dark cloud following me wherever I went, and I couldn't shake it (a Nas line from the World Is Yours comes to mind..). Not only did it feel like my innocence had been stripped away but the way Phife died was a wakeup call as well. Yes his death was sad, but it was very preventable. He did adjust his life and diet to accomodate his Type 1 diabetes, and it eventually caught up to him. I have stopped and started many workout/diet plans and then I fall into the familiar, destructive habit of not giving a good goddamn. I'm not a funky diabetic, and I am not that overweight, but I know I could and should be doing a better job to monitor my health. I know that in theory but when musical hero of mine dies and he's just 5 years my senior, it tends to resonate a little more.

So I waited a little over a week before I wrote about this, because I wanted to get my emotions in check. I'm sure I could say more, but this feels good enough for now. I'm still playing Tribe to death, but I'm working out and eating right again, the black cloud isn't following me anymore and life goes on. It still sucks though..

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