Kanye West Delivers Speech at Phife Dawg Memorial
Hundreds gathered at New York City's Apollo Theater Tuesday night (April 5) to remember A Tribe Called Quest member Phife Dawg, who passed on March 22 at the age of 45. Busta Rhymes, Andre 3000, Chuck D and Michael Rapaport were all in attendance, with Rolling Stone providing a recap of the event that included D'Angelo performing Carole King's "You've Got a Friend" backed by the Roots and Kelly Price singing the traditional worship song "Because He Lives."
Kanye West also delivered a few words, detailing Tribe's influence on himself and the strides that hip-hop has made in an effort to monetize. The following four paragraphs represent an abridged version of West's speech, with a full transcript available at Rolling Stone.
"Low End Theory was the first album I ever bought and I stayed in the suburbs of Chicago with my stepfather," Kanye said. "I'd always get into trouble for listening to music during the week and then I would have to go to detention or study hall, but I enjoyed it 'cause I had that Tribe tape and it didn't really matter how long that walk was.
"I was sitting here thinking about how much these people [in the room] inspire me and how powerful the influence of the music was and how it made that walk to study hall so short. How it meant everything. It is everything. Music was stolen from us and corporatized and anybody that spoke up was demonized. Anything I ever did wrong, blame Tip and Phife 'cause y'all raised me.
"Y'all made it okay in a city of Al Capone — number one murder capital city — for me to be me. Tribe made Kanye West. Made the kid with the pink Polo. Made it so I could dress funny. I'm not sorry if I said something wrong.
"Honor, man. They gotta honor us; honor what hip-hop is. It should not be surprising to you when the sports announcer [Scott Van Pelt] was influenced by Tribe. That should not be a surprise! That's the absolute truth!"
In addition, Kanye called out Peter Rosenberg of Hot 97 for coming to the stage earlier and comparing Tribe to Led Zeppelin. "I don't want to hear Zeppelin mentioned at Phife's funeral," said Kanye. He went on to talk about how America was built off the backs of blacks. "Barry Weiss knows," he said to murmurs in the crowd.
Kanye similarly posted a few comments to Twitter Tuesday evening, writing, "All respect prayers and love to Phife's family Thank you for so much inspiration. His mother's poem at the celebration brought me to tears. Tribe changed music forever."
Watch Kanye's speech in full courtesy of Periscope.
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