Phife Dawg’s “Dear Dilla”

Phif Dawg on the scales at the doctors office working on his weight and bing checked.

Phife Dawg’s Dear Dilla, Black Men, Disability in Hip-Hop.

Phife Dawg’s Dear Dilla, Black Men, Disability in Hip-Hop

I can’t believe that 2024 will mark ten years of the single and video of Phife Dawg’s Dear Dilla. Now in 2023 both are in heaven due to their health disabilities. The music video should be studied in Disability Studies thus it should create new writings, classes and discussions in Hip-Hop! However once again this opportunity so far hasn’t been fulfilled! Is this another example of Disability Studies being too White?

The disability angle was all over the music video of Phife Dawg’s Dear Dilla as it opens up in the hospital showing Phif Dawg recovering from diabetes while rapping to Dilla who was on the other side of curtain recovering from Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura ( a rare blood disease), and lupus). Like Frida Kahlo, Dilla is doing his art aka making beats on his MP in bed but comes to find out when he pulls back the hospital curtains he finds out that he just thought of Dilla because as the viewer knows that this song and video was a tribute to Dilla.

The video goes on with Phife Dawg trying to correcting his eating habits, cutting out sugar, and while he is backstage he remembers Dilla’s wheelchair because one of Dilla’s last live performance when he was a wheelchair user but in the middle of this memory Phife has diabetes flare with syringes falling to the floor.

Dear Dilla, the music video, is one of a kind especially coming from a Black male perspective in Hip-Hop that you don’t see a lot. The music video is tender and also makes a statement of Black men’s health especially in the music industry. Phife Dawg is not only shows us how he is trying to change his diet but also raps about the stress of touring that can cause a flare because of a lack of healthy food choices on the road. You see in the music video, Phife talking to his doctor too once again putting out a message that you don’t see in Hip-Hop and that is responsible Black men taking care of their health.

What hunts me was Phife’s lyrics, “Hold tight, this ain’t the last time I see you
Due time, that’s my word, I’ma see you…”

Did Phife Dawg knew that he will be next to Dilla? He did this song and video in 2014 and passed away in 2016, only two years later. Krip-Hop Nation views the video of the song Dear Dilla as one of many teachable connection between Hip-Hop and disability. These connections must continue to be made and written about for another good example, Pharoahe Monch’s music video, Still Standing, where he deals with asthma as a young boy and now as a man. Krip-Hop Nation bringing that critical disability scholarship to Hip-Hop.

By Leroy F Moore Jr

Dear Dilla, the video

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