Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor is dead. The A Tribe Called Quest rapper died on Wednesday (March 2, 2016) morning from unknown causes at the age of 45.
Phife Dawg reportedly battle diabetes and other health problems for years and has been mostly off the radar over the last decade. In 2008 he underwent a kidney transplant.
“Malik was our loving husband, father, brother and friend,” his family said in a statement according to Rolling Stone. “We love him dearly. How he impacted all our lives will never be forgotten. His love for music and sports was only surpassed by his love of God and family.”
Dawg helped shaped hip hop music in the 1990s while he was part of the hugely influential Tribe and the Native Tongues movement. He appeared on all three of the group A Tribe Called Quest albums in the early to mid 1990s and helped launched them to critical acclaim and commercial success. The group split in 1998 following the release of their third album The Love Movement. They have reunited and split up several times since then.
In 2013 A Tribe Called Quest went on tour with Kanye West for his “Yeezus Tour” for two nights. The group was well received by the current generation of rap fans.
Phife Dawg has only released one solo efforts but his health problems prevented him from doing more recording. In 2000 he released his debut album Ventilation: Da LP. He was reportedly planning to record another album before his untimely death.
The hip hop community has been responding to Phife Dawg death with artists including Kendrick Lamar, T.I., Pusha T, Logic, Big Sean and more paying tribute.
“One of the most influential rappers on me and hip hop period! Rest In Peace Phife Dawg and thank you for the legacy you leave behind,” Logic wrote on Twitter.
One of the most influential rappers on me and hip hop period! Rest In Peace Phife Dawg and thank you for the legacy you leave behind.
— Bobby Tarantino (@Logic301) March 23, 2016
RIP Phife Dog…. We appreciate U G!!!! pic.twitter.com/NA5PQbzP3z
— T.I. (@Tip) March 23, 2016
Phife-HipHop & Rap word Warrior, simple as that.Breathed it & lined rhyme into Sport.A true fire Social Narrator my bro #RIBeats ATCQforever
— Chuck D (@MrChuckD) March 23, 2016
Rest in Peace Phife Dawg
— Sean Don (@BigSean) March 23, 2016
Today is a dark day in hiphop.
— Talib Kweli Greene (@TalibKweli) March 23, 2016