“A Tribe Called Quest means a lot to me and pretty much everyone in rap. What you hear now had something to do with them.”
That’s how André 3000 summed up the iconic group’s legacy before presenting its members with the Golden Note Award on Thursday night during the 29th annual ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. Then Busta Rhymes took it from there, turning the ballroom into a concert hall with people dancing, shouting and standing on their seats as he and Spliff Star ripped through a medley of beloved ATQ tracks, including “Check the Rhime,” “Electric Relaxation” and “Scenario.”
Prior to that, ASCAP saluted the songwriters and publishers of the most-performed ASCAP songs on the 2015 R&B, hip-hop, rap and gospel charts. Leading the charge: Warner/Chappell, which earned the publisher of the year award. The Weeknd, with co-writers Jason “Deheala” Quenneville and Ahmad “Belly” Balshe, claimed the top R&B/hip-hop song crown for “Earned It.” Top rap song went to “Trap Queen” by Anton “Tony Fadd” Matsulevich and Fetty Wap. Jeremih was named top songwriter of the year for his contributions to the winning songs “Hold You Down,” “Planes,” “The Body” and “Throw Sum Mo.” And Brian Courtney Wilson won top gospel song for “Worth Fighting For.”
Following his performance, an emotional Rhymes recalled how A Tribe Called Quest became his “big brothers” when his former group, Leaders of the New School, broke up. “I don’t know what my life would have been,” said Rhymes, “if they didn’t put me on that ‘Scenario’ record.”
On hand to accept the Golden Note Award were ATQ members Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Jarobi White and Cheryl Boyce-Taylor, the mother of late member Phife Dawg. He died in March of complications from diabetes.
“He always had a big mouth,” Boyce-Taylor said of her son as the audience laughed. “And that came from me. I’m proud of that and deeply proud of his life on this planet.”
The evening’s additional performers included Wale, French Montana with Remy Ma, Bibi Bourelly and Anthony Brown & Group Therapy — all backed by the band 1500 or Nothin’. Artists Ne-Yo, Tank, Kid Ink and Erica Campbell doubled as guest presenters.
A complete list of ASCAP’s 2016 Rhythm & Soul Music Awards winners is available at ascap.com/rsawards.