Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest, born Malik Taylor, passed away at the age of 45. News of his death was first reported by Rolling Stone early Wednesday morning, although an official statement is yet to be released. The rapper battled diabetes for years and received a kidney transplant from his wife in 2008.

Phife was a founding member of the pioneering rap group and appeared on all five of their albums, including The Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders, which shaped generations of hip-hop fans and sent the entire genre down a different path.

As the news broke on social media, many members of the music community that either worked closely with Phife or were influenced by his presence sent out their condolences.

Phife Phorever #RIPPhifeDawg

A post shared by Questlove Gomez (@questlove) on

 

As a co-frontman of ATCQ alongside the laid-back Q-Tip, Phife, aka the Five Footer, often provided balance with his highly energetic delivery and clever product placement as the two life-long friends went back and forth. The two’s collaborations on record gave hip-hop some of its most classic records.

Phife also released one solo album in 200o called Ventilation: Da LP, but reportedly had to sidetrack his solo efforts due to his growing health issues.

The group’s last televised performance was on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon in late 2015.

Photo Credit: Twitter