Phife Dawg has died, according to multiple reports. The legendary member of A Tribe Called Quest was 45 years old.
Phife, born Malik Taylor, had battled diabetes since 1990. He received a kidney transplant in 2008 due to “renal failure due to diabetes complications,” according to Billboard.
The rapper’s death was first confirmed by Rolling Stone and Billboard magazines. His family has since released this statement about the cause of death:
“We regret to share the news that on Tuesday March 22nd, 2016, Malik has passed away due to complications resulting from diabetes. Malik was our loving husband, father, brother and friend. 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.”
#RIPPhife was trending on Twitter as of early Wednesday morning. Public Enemy frontman Chuck D tweeted that Phife was a “true fire social narrator,” while Roots drummer Questlove posted on Instagram that Phife “wrote his destiny” and inspired his musical career.
RIP to phife dog of tribe called quest pic.twitter.com/f4t5fvg4WD
— DJ Chuck Chillout (@djchuckchillout) 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
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!
— Mobb Deep (@MobbDeep) March 23, 2016
https://t.co/IC88CLA8vQ … … …
— Diaz (@CafertaCaf) March 23, 2016
Phife was known to many as the “Five Foot Assassin” or the “Five Footer.” The Queens, New York native helped revolutionize what hip-hop sounded like in the early 90s.