More than perhaps any other art form, music is intertwined with memory. Over time, the songs that soundtrack your formative years come to represent specific, long-gone places, times and feelings. This phenomenon was visible all over social media on Wednesday, as A Tribe Called Quest rapper Phife Dawg -- who died Tuesday at age 45 due to complications from diabetes -- was mourned by hip-hop legends and fans alike on deeply personal terms. For every tweet citing a classic Phife couplet, there was another recalling that school dance where you and your first girlfriend East Coast-stomped to "Scenario." Lin-Manuel Miranda, the star and creator of the hip-hop-infused Broadway musical Hamilton, tweeted several Phife lyrics, and even toasted the Queens rapper at Wednesday's (March 23) matinee show, incorporating a bit of Tribe's "Can I Kick It?" into one number. But in an interview with Billboard, he spoke about how Phife and Tribe's music has been an integral part of his life, from school fights and yearbook covers to friends' weddings.
The only fistfight I've ever been in in my life was with my friend Michael over the last cassette single of [A Tribe Called Quest’s 1991 hit "Scenario"] at Nobody Beats the Wiz on 96th and Broadway. I was in middle school, and on half-days, we'd take the crosstown bus over there. There was one left in the store, and Michael was like, "I knew them first!" And I was like, "But I like the song more!"