We all know that ‘The Low End Theory’ is one of the greatest albums of all time, and we’ve plucked the fantastic ‘Verses from the Abstract’ for The Unknown playlist, though of course we could have picked any tune at any time if we were judging by quality. And that’s before we even begin with ‘Midnight Marauders’, our appreciation of which we’ve already spoken of here in The Sessions. But perhaps oddly given those choices, we wanted to speak briefly here about neither, but instead look at ‘Beats, Rhymes and Life’ and Phife’s input.
The fourth and fifth instalments of the recorded legacy of the mighty Quest are not their finest work. However, these albums have been made to seem slightly inferior because of their proximity to genius. Because we were listening to ‘Beats, Rhymes and Life’ the other day, and while perhaps not reaching the highest of highs, the album is certainly no dud. In fact it was an absolute mainstay at one point in our lives and indeed it still contains more than a few moments of brilliance. One is the opening musical mosaic of killer track ‘The Pressure’ moulded from tiles of the finest Tribe cuts. We can still recite it note-perfectly on demand.
And then there is Phife's verse in ‘The Hop’, an example of the five-foot assassin's much missed expertise of expression. Asked to name your favourite Tribe verse and we think that 9 out of 10 would name a Phife flow. We might be wrong, but for us he just edges the most memorable bouts of wordplay between this partnership of equal greatness. Anyway, ‘The Hop’ is a prime example of the Phife that we love, incredible similes, cracking one-liners, boastful bragging battle rap, tinted with a touch of freestyle finesse. We often malign the fact that Phife has never gone on to solo success, but his position as an emcee of elite repute is assured. And ‘Beats, Rhymes and Life’ has got plenty more going for it. So dig it out and remind yourself of the enjoyment it still brings 1nce again.