Titled Forever, the album will be preceded Friday by first single “Nutshell Part 2” featuring Busta Rhymes and Redman, a continuation of sorts of Phife Dawg’s final single “Nutshell,” released less than a month after his March 2016 death.
In November 2015 — a year before A Tribe Called Quest’s reunion LP We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service, which later served as a tribute to Phife Dawg — the rapper born Malik Taylor spoke to Rolling Stone about his in-the-works solo EP (Give Thanks) and album, his second following 2000’s Ventilation: Da LP. At the time, the LP had the title Muttymorphosis and was meant to function as “basically my life story.”
While the J Dilla-produced “Nutshell” was released in April 2016, the rest of Phife’s final recordings — a collection of “carefully assembled songs earmarked by his signature verbal fireworks, hilarious ad-libs, incisive social commentary, and unexpectedly introspective confessions” — were entrusted to Phife’s business partner Dion Liverpool, whose Smokin’ Needles Records imprint will release Forever in partnership with indie distributor AWAL.
“We are excited about the partnership with AWAL for Malik’s posthumous album release,” Phife Dawg’s family said in a statement. “We give all glory to God for allowing Malik to accomplish everything his heart desired, including his solo music. He worked really hard to complete his album before he transitioned, and he was ready to share an album that was near and dear to his heart with his fans. His fans meant the world to him.”
The Forever announcement follows the arrival of Mama Phife Represents, a “hybrid book” that the rapper’s mother Cheryl Boyce-Taylor wrote as a tribute to her son “that recalls the death of a beloved son and follows his mother’s first two years of public and private mourning.”
“I share our story in hopes that it may inspire you to keep healing, growing, and moving forward even after you’ve been through the worst news of your life,” Boyce-Taylor writes in the book’s intro. “It will take a lifetime for me to get over his loss, but I want you to learn from my story. When you’ve been given a life-threatening illness, you don’t have to curl up and die. You can rise above the challenges and keep moving. As Tribe said, ‘push it along, push it along.’”