By Madina Toure
Two major efforts are underway to honor legendary hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest and one of its members, Queens-raised Phife Dawg, who recently died.
Malik Taylor, known by his stage name Phife Dawg and his nickname “The Five-Foot Assassin,” died March 22 in California at the age of 45 due to complications from diabetes, according to his manager, Dion Liverpool, known as DJ Rasta Root.
He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes—when the body does not produce insulin—in May 1990, according to his profile on the website of dLife, or the Diabetes Health Company.
One petition, addressed to City Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans) and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Mahattan), calls for Linden Boulevard between 192nd and 193rd streets to be co-named “A Tribe Called Quest Boulevard.”
The video for the group’s single “Check the Rhime,” the first single from their second album, “The Low End Theory,” releaded in 1991, was shot on that boulevard.
Brooklyn resident Leroy McCarthy, who has also been pushing for street renamings for hip-hop figures in the other boroughs, started the motion for the street renaming and Brooklyn native Tee Smif, a TV producer, started the petition, which has 5,359 of the 7,500 signatures needed.
“I have spoken with the management for Phife Dawg and shared with him my condolences and asked them if they would be receptive to this idea,” he said. “They said they are.”
Liverpool said he and the family are interested in the petition but are still recovering from their loss.
“Based on our conversations with him (McCarthy), we felt like it is an honor,” he said. “I think whether Phife had passed away or not, I think that should have been in play just based on what the group has done for culture.”
A spokesman for Mark-Viverito said she is interested in the proposal.
“We’re happy to review the petition,” he said.
Miller said Phife Dawg’s death is a loss for St. Albans and the entire hip-hop industry.
“I look forward to supporting the introduction of this legislation and this tribute to these musical pioneers,” he said in a statement.
Community Board 12 Chairwoman Adrienne Adams said the board is waiting to receive the appropriate forms from McCarthy.
“If it’s what the community wants, then it what’s the community should have,” Adams said.
Taylor, who was raised in St. Albans, is one of three members of A Tribe Called Quest, which he formed in 1985 along with fellow Queens native Q-Tip and Brooklyn native Ali Shaheed Muhammad. The fourth member, Jarobi White, who also helped found the group, left in 1991 but remained as an honorary member.
The group’s first album, “People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm,” was released in 1990. The group broke up in 1998 but has reunited several times.
Phife Dawg released his solo album, “Ventilation: Da LP,” in 2000.
Another petition, started by Noelle Ross, calls for St. Albans Park to be renamed “Malik ‘Phife Dawg’ Taylor Park.” The petition has received 5,002 of 6,000 needed signatures.
A Parks spokesman said parks are named by the Parks commissioner or through local law, but the agency has not received any official proposals for the renaming of the park.
“NYC Parks, too, is saddened by the sudden death of Queens’ own Phife Dawg,” the spokesman said.
On his Facebook page, White called for Sayres Avenue from 180th Street to Merrick Boulevard to be renamed “Malik ‘Phife Dawg’ Taylor Avenue” and for St. Albans Park to be renamed.McCarthy said White expressed support for the Linden Boulevard petition and that they support the St. Albans Park petition, which Smif also signed.
“It’s not competing petitions,” Smif said. “It’s just love across the board. Different people want to show their love in different ways.”
The article was originally published in the TimesLedger Newspapers.