It’s been a long time coming, but Phife Dawg’s first posthumous solo album is just days away from being unveiled to the world. The Queens-bred legend passed away on March 22, 2016, so it’s only appropriate the project is scheduled to drop on Tuesday (March 22), the sixth anniversary of his death.
On Tuesday (March 15), DJ Rasta Root — Phife’s most trusted friend and collaborator — shared an Instagram post featuring the album cover art and tracklist. Titled Forever, the 13-track project boasts special guests Q-Tip, Busta Rhymes, De La Soul’s Maseo, Lyric Jones, Dwele, Phife’s mother Cheryl Boyce-Taylor, Angela Winbush, Redman, Illa J, De La Soul’s Pos, Little Brother and Darien Brockington.
Production is handled by 9th Wonder, V Rich, Rasta Root, Nottz, the late J Dilla, Khrysis, UL.TMT., Bobby Ozuna, G-Koop, Angela Winbush, Potatohead People, The Roux and Luke Austin.
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The rollout for Forever began in February 2021 with the release of “Nutshell 2” featuring Redman and Busta Rhymes. The song served as a sequel to “Nutshell,” which arrived less than a month after his death. Phife Dawg’s estate followed up with a video for the track and another single called “French Kiss Trois” featuring Redman and J Dilla’s brother Illa J, further building anticipation for the long-awaited album.
In May 2019, HipHopDX spoke to Phife’s mother Cheryl Boyce-Taylor and widow Deisha Head-Taylor about their devastating loss. After all, Phife was just 45 years old when he transitioned.
“To be honest, it’s still hard,” Head-Taylor said at the time. “It’s still surreal, unreal, and I still have moments where I have emotional outbursts. The pain just never leaves. It’s a huge chunk of your heart that just … it feels like it’s gone, and it’s empty now. Sometimes I’ll look at pictures. I’ll go on his Instagram account. He stayed on Instagram [laughs].
“I am the Phifer, right? Sometimes I’ll go to those, and I’ll look at those, and then I’ll start smiling. When I have certain moments, sometimes I’ll go to text messages of things he would send me. I just reminisce to get through the healing.”
Boyce-Taylor, who appears on two tracks on the Forever album, admitted she still hasn’t “gotten through it” and rightfully so.
“It’s still a day-by-day process, but I know he would want me to continue my work,” she said. “I am a professional poet and writer, so I withdrew from a lot of my performing and teaching and things like that. That was very helpful. I’ve been in therapy for the last two-and-a-half years and writing.”
The Five-Foot Assassin’s legacy will carry on in his music — not only with A Tribe Called Quest’s celebrated catalog but his solo work. The release of Forever will add yet another colorful chapter to his already iron-clad legacy.