Mama Phife Represents: A Memoir

Mama Phife Represents: A Memoir

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Author: Cheryl Boyce-Taylor

Publisher: Haymarket Books (2021)

Mama Phife Represents is a hybrid-story that follows the journey of a mother’s grieving heart through her first two years of public and private mourning. Told through a tapestry of narrative poems, dreams, anecdotes, journal entries, and letters, these treasured fragments of their lives show a great love between mother and son, artist and artist, teacher and friend. Cheryl Boyce-Taylor’s gift includes drawings, emails, hip-hop lyrics, and notes Malik wrote to his parents beginning at age eight. Both elegy and praise song, there is joy and sorrow, healing, and a mother’s triumphant heart that rises and blooms again. 

“A teacher begets a teacher and a poet begets a poet. This book is the embodiment of pure love, grace and hope. Herein, Mama Phife aka Cheryl Boyce-Taylor has given us a gift about her greatest gift, her son Malik 'Phife Dawg' Taylor. Malik was a great storyteller. To say he got it from his mama is an understatement. He was a treasure to me and Cheryl’s writings and memoirs help to comfort the place that misses him greatly. I thank her for this book and for still teaching us... like her mother before her.”

–Ali Shaheed Muhammad

“I am eternally hopeful that more people in the world come to terms with understanding that for anyone to share an experience of grief is a true generosity. With Mama Phife Represents, Cheryl Boyce-Taylor allows a reader to bask in the generosity. The sharing of loss and grief is the building of a bridge that others who have experienced that specific loss can cross. This is a book about losing a child, yes. But beyond that, it is a book of tactile emotions, and a singularly musical writing, which Boyce-Taylor has always done so well. Above all, Mama Phife Represents shows anyone who has lost someone how to make the most of memory, and the most of their own survival.”

–Hanif Abdurraqib

“Malik Phife Dawg Taylor represents everything that's beautiful about Hip-Hop. I had the honor of meeting his mother Cheryl Boyce-Taylor, the poet, long before I met him. She inspired me to become a better artist. When I became a professional artist, Malik was one of my biggest supporters. Without them, I don't know if I would be the artist I am today. This book is like a piece of me.”

–Talib Kweli