Phife Dawg, Founding Member of A Tribe Called Quest, Dies at 45
Phife Dawg, a founding member of seminal Queens hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest, has died at 45, Rolling Stone confirmed this morning (March 23).
The cause of the man born Malik Taylor's death has yet to be officially announced, but he underwent a kidney transplant in 2008 and had lived with diabetes for decades (as he rapped in "Oh My God" off 1994's Midnight Marauders: "Mr. Energetic/ Who me, sound pathetic? When's the last time you heard a funky diabetic?"). Born in Jamaica, Queens, Taylor made friends with rapper Q-Tip in early childhood. Along with DJ-producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad and occasional early member Jarobi White, the two would go on to form A Tribe Called Quest in 1985.
In addition to Tribe's five studio albums, including the platinum-selling The Low End Theory, Midnight Marauders and Beats, Rhymes & Life, Phife released a solo album titled Ventilation: DA LP in 2000. The group had split for the first time two years prior in 1998, though they reunited to perform intermittently over the years. Phife was currently working on a new album, titled MUTTYmorPHosis, which he described as "basically my life story" and intended to release later in 2016.
"I never expected it to be this big," he said, reflecting on the band's success in a 2015 Rolling Stone interview. "I just thought we were going to be celebs in the hood."
Upon learning of his death, celebrities including Run the Jewels rapper El-P and DJ-producer A-Trak expressed their condolences.
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