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 lives through an all inspiring body of work; Pure and smart, MUSICAL and fun!! Why I fell for Hip Hop. He is loved. Tribe is loved.
— ⭐Jill Scott⭐ (@missjillscott) March 23, 2016
Phife was a great dude. A beautiful spirit. And one of the most underrated MCs around… Tribe’s magic was as much Phife as anybody…
— Marc Lamont Hill (@marclamonthill) March 23, 2016
Just woke up to the news that my childhood hero and friend Phife from Tribe aka Malik Taylor is gone…I have no idea what to say .. Floored
— Peter Rosenberg (@Rosenbergradio) March 23, 2016
— New York Mets (@Mets) March 23, 2016
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