A new posthumous album from Phife Dawg, the late co-founder of A Tribe Called Quest, is on the way. Entitled Forever, the collection will be released later this year through Smokin’ Needles Records in partnership with AWAL. As a preview, the first single is streaming below.
As its title suggests, “Nutshell PART 2” serves as a sequel to the J Dilla-produced “Nutshell”, which was released a month after Phife Dawg’s death in 2016. A breezy blast of old-school hip-hop, “PART 2” pairs Phife Dawg with Busta Rhymes and Redman.
Over a lo-fi beat with occasional keys and minimalist bass, the three rappers take turns trading off verses about their humble egos, creative inspiration, and general strengths, gassing one another up as they go. It’s a charming bite-sized single, and it’s worth listening to if only to hear Phife Dawg, Busta Rhymes, and Redman vibing together like it’s the ’90s again.
Next month will mark the five year anniversary of Phife Dawg’s death. The game-changing rapper passed away at the age of 45 after battling Type 1 diabetes for years. Immediately after the news broke, his loss weighed heavy on the hip-hop community — heartfelt tributes poured in from Kanye West, Questlove, D’Angelo, and countless others — and the New York City scene at large.
Before his death, Phife Dawg helped create We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service, A Tribe Called Quest’s incredible 2016 comeback record and one of the best albums of the past decade. He also was allegedly working on a collaborative album with Outkast, which still has yet to see the light of day.
A Tribe Called Quest paid tribute to Phife through radio mixes, music videos and live performances on Saturday Night Live and the Grammys. However, they eventually found themselves unable to continue touring in support of the album due to overwhelming grief, dubbing their Bestival performance their “last show ever” midway through the set.
Forever, which was assembled by Phife Dawg’s business partner Dion Liverpool, is a collection of “carefully assembled songs earmarked by his signature verbal fireworks, hilarious ad-libs, incisive social commentary, and unexpectedly introspective confessions,” according to Rolling Stone.