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“He’s like the dude next door that watched sports and is always talking about the game. In the ensuing years, they would occasionally reconvene to do shows, but the relationship between Q-Tip and Phife was difficult at times, as can be seen in Michael Rapaport’s sometimes brutal 2011 documentary “Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest.” Q-Tip said the group had grown so popular that it was hard to maintain the friendships that were at its core.

And he was funny.”Three of Tribe’s five albums went platinum, and the other two went gold, but the group’s influence extended far beyond sales figures. He also felt uncomfortable being cast as the de facto leader. Even still, Phife repeatedly asked about doing another group album; Q-Tip would respond, “Not now.” He was on a self-imposed sabbatical.

“And he was very happy to go out like that.”In the months since Phife died, Q-Tip has worked to finish what he called “the final Tribe album.” Its title is the one Phife wanted. From April until late October, he recorded and tweaked his way to the end, but one part was never easy.

The two rappers — lifelong friends from Queens and half of the influential hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest — were “yucking it up,” Q-Tip recalled, and talking about a project few people outside their inner circle knew was in the works: a new Tribe album, the first in 18 years. The rapper Jarobi White was at Q-Tip’s house and heard people screaming. “There were two puddles of goo on the floor.” The producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad was in Sherman Oaks, Calif., walking out of an Apple store with a replacement i Phone when the call came in. Without any of his contacts, he stood paralyzed, unable to reach out to anyone.“I had no idea that his days was numbered,” Q-Tip said. — On March 22, at 3 a.m., Q-Tip and Phife Dawg were on the phone. The other members of A Tribe Called Quest were shattered.“I just wanted to ensure my mental health as a human being.” Then one day he said to himself: “How much longer are you going to be here? Plus, it was just good to be with my brothers after all of that time.”Mr.It’s good that you sat and you’re reading these books and you’re leaving the girls alone but, like, get over yourself.” It was time to get back to work. White said the group easily slipped back into the zone: “It was like, oh man, this is the feeling that we’ve all been missing! Muhammad was in Los Angeles working as the music supervisor for Netflix’s “Luke Cage.” And Phife was in Oakland, recording his own music and dealing with his health problems.But now some of the group members think that all that traveling may have contributed to grinding him down, physically.

“Doing this album killed him,” Jarobi White said simply. “We’re just going with it because he liked it.”Q-Tip said it was tough to finish the album.

Shortly afterward, in November 2015, the group was asked to perform on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” to commemorate the 25th anniversary of its debut album. It felt like we was those kids that had that big show in Paris when they were 19. ” That was the night when Q-Tip finally said: “Let’s just do an album! ”But just because you put out the bat signal doesn’t mean everyone can come running. Since 1990, Phife had been dutifully managing life with Type 2 diabetes.

It was the group’s first television appearance in 15 years, and everyone agreed. He was receiving dialysis three times a week and eating right.

Q-Tip was in the million-dollar recording studio he built in the basement of his stately New Jersey home; Phife was at his place in the San Francisco Bay Area. ” Q-Tip said in a recent interview in the lounge of his studio, surrounded by white shelves holding hundreds of vinyl LPs. Retelling this story in the same room where he had had so many conversations with Phife, he became too emotional to speak. Finally he said, “I just want to celebrate him, you know? 11, A Tribe Called Quest will do just that, releasing on Epic Records “We Got It From Here, Thank You for Your Service,” the group’s sixth album.

Phife was fired up about a potential track: “Yo, make sure you send me that beat. It features all four of the group’s members plus a host of guests — André 3000, Kendrick Lamar, Elton John, Jack White and Busta Rhymes, a longtime Tribe collaborator who made a heralded appearance on the 1992 posse cut “Scenario.” Busta Rhymes said he saw Q-Tip and Phife in the studio vibing the way they did in the old days.

Q-Tip had one major rule for the album: He insisted that everyone who was a part of it come work in the studio. Everybody spat their rhymes in front of each other.