Although A Tribe Called Quest's first tour in six years is looming next month, principal member Phife Dawg admits the pioneering hip-hop group is still uncertain whether the shows will lead to any fur
Although A Tribe Called Quest's first tour in six years is looming next month, principal member Phife Dawg admits the pioneering hip-hop group is still uncertain whether the shows will lead to any further activity.
After all, one new song, "I C U Doin' It," was recorded in 2004 for a "Violator" compilation but never saw the light of day, and Phife is still disappointed Tribe didn't seize that opportunity to spend more time in the studio.
"I really thought it was going to jump off right then and there," he tells Billboard.com. "It was the perfect time. Not that right now isn't, but if we don't make up our mind whether we're going to do it or not, nobody is going to care anymore. Let's break bread while we can."
"I'm not sure how it would be recording with each other," he continues. "It has been such a long time. The last time, we were 27 or 28. Now, we're 35 and 36. We're grown now. I don't want to say yes and we don't record, or no and we drop an album next March. It is up in the air, definitely. You have three different personalities."
For now, Phife, Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad are focusing on the 2K Sports-sponsored tour, which opens Sept. 1 in Detroit. "We have to give it up to 2K Sports," Phife admits. "They had an idea to bring us out on the road, and for whatever reason we agreed. We really don't need too much preparation other than going over the song list and listening to the songs, and making sure we remember lyrics."
As for what fans can expect from the set list, Phife would only say, "Anything you remember as a single, we're doing it. Thank god we have some catalog!"
Despite the passage of time, Phife says he is eternally "thankful" how frequently Tribe is still referenced as one of the most important acts in hip-hop history. "The rap game is so fickle," he says. "We could have been forgotten and left for dead a long time ago, especially since we haven't done anything since 1998. For people to still crave seeing us, that's a blessing. I really think we're doing ourselves, as well as the fans, an injustice by not handling our business. It's not going to be like that forever, and we need to take full advantage."
Meanwhile, Phife has just begun work on a new solo album, "Songs in the Key of Phife, Vol. 1: Cheryl's Big Son," named in tribute both to the classic Stevie Wonder album and the artist's mother. He says he's hoping to collaborate with Muhammad and Q-Tip for the project, as well as De La Soul, Method Man, Redman and Faith Evans. "Songs" will be issued by Phife's own Smokin' Needles label, which has yet to secure distribution.