Andre 3000 and Kanye West made a rare public appearance at the Apollo Theatre to share their love for A Tribe Called Quest at a memorial service for Phife Dawg.
The two rappers joined thousands of fans and dozens of Hip-Hop legends in saying good-bye one last time to the “Funky Diabetic” who passed away in March at age 45. Busta Rhymes and Chuck D all shared their fondest memories while ATCQ members Q-Tip, Jarobi and Ali Shahed Muhammad closed the night with emotional eulogies.
But it was Dre who perhaps caught the most ears, revealing the direct influence that ATCQ had on Outkast’s lyrics and production, as well as aborted plans for an A Tribe Called Quest and Outkast album.
Here is an entire transcript of Dre’s monologue per Rolling Stone:
Man, it’s about Phife. I wasn’t prepared to say anything, but it’s like, “Outkast would not be Outkast.” When we got our deal, we rapped for [Outkast producer] Rico Wade in the parking lot. The only thing me and Big [Boi] had was “Scenario” on cassette and we rapped for days, just going. And in high school, my first rap name was Jhaz because of these n*ggas. It was J-H-A-Z; I don’t know how I was thinking I was spelling that sh*t. [Crowd laughs.] Because of “Jazz (We’ve Got).” We would sit in high school and be like, “Man, we love them.”
I’m going to say some interesting news and some disappointing news at the same time. About a year or two ago, we were talking about doing a Tribe Called Quest and Outkast album. Yeah. For whatever reason, it did not happen. I don’t want to let the time go by, because you never know. And that’s one of the biggest things about regret. Whatever reason we didn’t do it, it was on our plate and we just… let it go for our own personal reasons.
Influence. Influence is really important. In the same way that we’re here because of you all, and it’s totally true. Man, our label tried so hard to make us Tribe. [Crowd laughs.] In our bio — we didn’t write the sh*t — they called me the poet and Big Boi the playa like it was some “Southern Tribe” shit. We didn’t like it; we just wanted to rap. But they wanted us to be Tribe so bad and we loved them niggas so bad, we were like, “We’ll be a street Tribe.” We’ll be robbin niggas. Imagine me tryin to rob a n*gga. [Crowd laughs.] We wanted to be “hood Tribe.” I guess that’s what we ended up being, in a way.
But influence. I had a conversation with Tip and it shocked the shit out of me. One day, he said, ‘When y’all came out as Outkast, I knew that the tides had changed. I knew rap had changed.” And I knew what he was talking about because when I see [Lil] Wayne and Young Thug, I’m like, “Ohhh, I can’t keep up with that shit. It’s so dope.” It’s the connection. They’re them because of us and it has to keep going. All this old n*ggas hatin on the young n*ggas, that shit got to stop. It’s all music. It’s all influence. It’ll keep going because we’re all connected.
I don’t have no big message or speech or nothing but just, “Keep that sh*t going.” And Tribe meant everything to me. They are everything. It’s always, “Who are the greatest groups?” F*ck that sh*t. [Points to Tribe Called Quest.] This dude [Q-Tip] taught me what kind of rapper I wanted to be. My first rap, I remember it now, it was “Young and naive/Alive I keep the dream/Writin’ funky lyrics at the age of 16.” I wrote it because of you. [Points to Q-Tip.] I didn’t even know what the word naive meant. [Crowd laughs.] Q-Tip taught me words. “Elation.” I’m sitting in high school like, “Damn I gotta look this sh*t up.” “I’m filled with elation.” Ohhhhh, okay. We can use these words too? We can be smart? Yeah, man. He gave me fuel. And I gotta give the young n*ggas fuel. We gotta quit hatin’ on each other. To Phife.
In a rare case, Kanye West took a moment to humble himself and tell the world that ATCQ is the reason for everything he’s ever done “wrong.”
Per Rolling Stone:
I might say something wrong as always, but I thought it’d be more wrong not to say nothing. When I see the power in this room…. Low End Theory was the first album I ever bought and I stayed in the suburbs of Chicago with my stepfather. I’d always get into trouble for listening to music during the week and then I would have to go to detention or study hall, but I enjoyed it ’cause I had that Tribe tape and it didn’t really matter how long that walk was…One hundred years from now, we’re gonna all be with Phife and this country was built off our back. I live next to the dentist. I stay in a $20 million crib next to the dentist. Dave Chappelle, you know what I’m talking about. We had an event a year ago and I would just go over to Tip’s house like when they was doing Low End Theory and Pete Rock came down. And I be at these events in Hollywood and I be at these events here and I’m looking at how many more people inspire us and the walls that we have on our finances. Out in Hollywood, everybody got a mink coat and $500,000 car. And it’s the way the music industry was set up was that all the people that run the industry and sign everybody from out of Queens, the Bronx, southside of Chicago, Atlanta make sure that they get that crib.
I’m sorry, but that’s what was on my f*ckin’ mind when I was sitting here thinking about how much these people inspire me and how powerful the influence of the music was and how it made that walk to study hall so short. How it meant everything. It is everything. Music was stolen from us and corporatized and anybody that spoke up was demonized. Anything I ever did wrong, blame Tip and Phife ’cause y’all raised me…It should not be surprising to you when the sports announcer [Scott Van Pelt] was influenced by Tribe. That should not be a surprise! That’s the absolute truth!