They unfurled a surreal portrait of Phife when they floored the audience at Saturday Night Live on November 12, with Q-Tip holding a microphone up to the image on the late rapper’s bars, and now they’ve worked another imaginative rendering of Phife’s face into the music video for “We the People.”
Tribe turn the city into a stage for the rousing verses of the track, which shine a necessary, unforgiving spotlight on xenophobia, racism, and intolerance. People take to the streets and run from patrolmen in riot gear as they wire up speakers, microphones, and megaphones, with Tip, Jarobi White, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Busta Rhymes, and Consequence all taking turns at their own DIY setup in a nondescript studio space.
Instead of a painting bearing Phife’s visage, this time around Tribe worked with their surroundings: As soon as Phife’s first solo verse begins with “You bastards overlooking street art / Better yet, street smarts but you keep us off the charts,” a wheatpaste mural of his face on a brick wall starts spitting rhymes, too.
“We the People” is off A Tribe Called Quest’s We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service, their sixth and final album, which is available now.