When Golden-era luminary Phife Dawg tragically passed away at age of 45 last year, he left behind him a rich legacy of impeccable artistry and incalculable influence.
Losing his life to complications with diabetes, the A Tribe Called Quest member’s mellowed delivery and conscientious lyricism inspired a generation of forward-minded “conscious rappers” that boosted alternative hip-hop in the late ’90s and early ’00s.
But in addition to his indelible mark on the genre, it turns out he might have left behind something else.
In a recent interview on Hot 100’s “Ebro in The Morning,” OutKast expat Big Boi dished on a shocking would-have-been collaboration project that for most of us would have been too majestic to fathom.
Remarking on how both OutKast and A Tribe Called Quest often occupy esteemed spots in the minds of hip-hop fans when indulging G.O.A.T. discussions, host Peter Rosenberg asked the Atlanta stalwart how Phife’s passing impacted him.
Reminiscing on the sheer sadness of the circumstance, Big Boi also conjured up an anecdote of his last interaction with the late rapper. “He had just been in my studio, ‘Stankonia.’ We actually got a couple records that me and Phife did together,” the Stankonia maven recollected to a bewildered Rosenberg and co-host Laura Stylez.
Unfortunately, the project didn’t get too far before Phife Dawg’s premature death stalled the project. “Q-Tip flew to Atlanta with Ali Shaheed Muhammad, we all met at Dre’s house,” Big Boi recalled. “We got to the point of picking out beats for the album,” but beyond a few sessions, that was essentially the extent of the album’s progress. “It was definitely happening, though.”
It’s unclear whether the project has been nixed for good, or whether it’ll pick back up without the fallen MC, but it looks extremely unlikely. Vibe points out the Andre 3000 spoke of the truncated collab at a memorial service last year, saying that the project “was on our plate and we just… let it go for our own personal reasons.”
Watch the full Hot 97 interview below, wherein Big Boi’s remarks about the dreamy A Tribe Called Quest collaboration roll in at the 8:30 mark.