A Tribe Called Quest’s Phife Dawg Dies at 45

Hip-hop artist Phife Dawg, a principal member of influential group A Tribe Called Quest has died, Rolling Stone reports. He was 45.

Though a cause of death has yet to be released, the rapper had Type 1 diabetes, forcing him to undergo a kidney transplant in 2008. It’s unclear whether he had current health problems related to this condition. A representative for A Tribe Called Quest didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Born Malik Taylor in 1970 in Queens, N.Y., Phife Dawg joined forces with Q-Tip, DJ Ali Muhammad and Jarobi to form the group in the late 1980s. The group released five albums from to 1998, the most popular being their debut, “People’s Instinctive Travels and Paths of Rhythm,” and 1991’s “Low End Theory.”

After the group broke up, Phife Dawg ventured out as a solo artist, releasing one album in 2000: “Ventilation: Da LP.”

The group was subject of a 2011 documentary called “Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest” by actor Michael Rapaport.Phife Dawg recalled what he saw was the essence of the hip-hop group:

“What it boiled down to is we treated everything like it was important. From production to cadences, flows, we were very particular about that. We didn’t want to sound like anybody else or everybody else. We wanted to be in our own zone — we wanted to be in a league of our own, so to speak, and I think that’s what came out in the music when you heard it.”

Tributes to Phife Dawg flooded Twitter this morning.

visits the Tribeca Film Festival 2011 portrait studio on April 27, 2011 in New York City.
Phife forever 1970-2016. 1991 in Sept I went to visit Tariq at Millersville U in the middle of PA (Lancaster). Miles Davis had just passed & I went on a binge to study his post jazz works. Went to Sound Of Market to purchase Nefertiti, In A Silent Way & Live Evil—the only non jazz purchase I made that day ironically was the most jazziest album in that collection: #TheLowEndTheory by @ATCQ. —it was raining that day so somehow the 1…2 punch of “Nefertiti”/”Fall” just had me in a trance that train trip—even though I suspected there was a possibility that Tribe could possibly have made a better album then their debut (the perfect @@@@@ mic Source rating would be on stands in a week so I was right)—but I knew I wanted to save that listening for when I got up to the campus w Riq.—so some 90mins later when I get to his dorm–we ripped that bad boy open (I can’t describe the frustration that was CD packaging in 1991, just imagine the anger that environmentalists feel when all that paper packaging in Beats headphone gets wasted—it’s like that)—the sign of a true classic is when a life memory is burnt in your head because of the first time you hear a song. —Riq & I had this moment a few times, but the look on our faces when we 1st heard “Buggin Out” was prolly Me & Tariq’s greatest “rewind selector!” moment in our friendship. (Back then every MC’s goal was to have that “rewind!!!” moment. As in to say something so incredible. Or to catch you by surprise that it makes you go “DAAAAAYUM!!!”& you listen over & over—Malik “Phife” Taylor’s verse was such a gauntlet/flag planting moment in hip hop. Every hip hop head was just…stunned HE. CAME. FOR. BLOOD & was taking NO prisoners on this album (or ever again) we just kept looking at the speaker on some disbelief old timey radio Suspense episode. & also at each other “Phife is KILLIN!”–by the time we got to “Scenario” I swear to god THAT was the moment I knew I wanted to make THIS type of music when I grew up–(yeah yeah dad I know: “go to Juilliard or Curtis to make a nice living at “real music”) but he didn’t know that Phife & his crew already wrote my destiny. I ain’t look back since. THANK YOU PHIFE

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