As the Hip Hop community mourns the sudden loss of Phife Dawg (real name Malik Taylor), one of the greatest emcees to ever get on the mic, an overwhelming sense of sadness is hard to escape for many. The impact A Tribe Called Quest (ATCQ) had on Hip Hop culture can be felt in every corner of the world.
Q-Tip and Phife were childhood friends, who grew up in Queens, New York City. In 1985, Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Phife and (sometimes) Jarobi formed a group that forever changed the Hip Hop landscape. With their jazz-infused rhythms and impeccable rhymes, they are heralded as one of the most innovative rap groups in Hip Hop history.
ATCQ’s seminal album, 1990’s People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, quickly established them as lyrical wrecking balls. They followed up with 1991’s The Low End Theory and 1993’s Midnight Marauders, both which are highly-revered classics.
In an interview with Thrasher in November 2014, Phife was hard at work on his solo material while doing lectures/shows with DJ Z-Trip, artist Justin Bua and his DJ/manager Dion Liverpool (Rasta Root). He openly talked about his struggles with Type 1 diabetes and his 2008 kidney transplant.
“The last five years have been a roller coaster,” Phife said. “I got my kidney transplant in 2008, but then it only lasted for like three and a half years so I had to go back on dialysis. I’m back on dialysis as we speak.
“It’s rough, but this time around I’ve dealt with it much better because I know what to expect,” he continued. “When I first found out I had to go back on it, I wanted to crawl into a hole and not speak to anybody, but I couldn’t do that. Not to pat myself on the back, but I think I’m a lot tougher than that, you know what I mean? I dealt with it.”
Despite his valiant fight against the disease, he has lost the battle at 45-years-old. His family released an official statement earlier this morning [Wednesday, March 23].
“We regret to share the news that on Tuesday March 22nd, 2016, Malik has passed away due to complications resulting from diabetes,” read a statement sent to Billboard. “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.”