A Tribe Called Quest: 20 Essential Songs

R.I.P. Phife Dawg: Revisit pioneering New York rap crew's best tracks

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"Stressed Out" feat. Faith Evans (1996)

The highlight of the "Baby Phife Version" of ATCQ's moody and downbeat "Stressed Out" is Phife Dawg's closing verse. (The album version of "Stressed Out" doesn't include Phife, and instead focuses on Q-Tip trading mics with his cousin, newcomer Consequence. Consequence's outsized presence on ATCQ's 1996 album didn't sit well with Phife, and tension lingered between the two during recording sessions.) Phife often plays the ruffneck counterpart to Q-Tip's wise-beyond-his-years sage, but here he sounds like the mature one. He kicks a ragamuffin flow, noting how he takes medication for diabetes, and praises his loving wife, Deisha Taylor, and how "she cures me from stress." His brief words about his marriage — "Lay my head on her breast/Sugar dumpling knows best" — are among the most positive you'll hear about monogamous relationships in the hip-hop canon. Years later, Deisha was a kidney donor for her husband in 2008, and their relationship was chronicled in the documentary Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest.    

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