There’s sad news today for the world of hip hop. Malik Isaac Taylor, otherwise known as Phife Dawg, one of the founding members of the legendary Hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest, died on Tuesday, March 22 after struggling with his health. He was 45 years old.
The hip-hop pioneer had been struggling for a long time with diabetes and had received a kidney transplant in 2008 from his wife, reports BBC March 23. Rolling Stone confirmed the late MC’s death, but an official statement has yet to be released, as well as an official cause of death.
A slew of Twitter messages from leaders in the hip-hop community began paying tribute to Phife, starting with a RIP message from producer and radio broadcaster DJ Chuck Chillout. Other hip-hop leaders paid tribute to the late MC on social media including DJ Gilles Peterson and politically and socially conscious rapper Chuck D.
Rolling Stone reports that Phife’s health problems were so severe, that they interfered with him having much of a solo career. Taylor appeared on each of Tribe’s five studio albums (including Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders). He released one solo album in 2000 entitled Ventilation: Da LP.
Taylor was working on new music and it is yet to be released. A teaser of the EP “Nutshell,” a track from a J Dilla collaboration entitled Give Thanks had been released, but a full version of the song is still under wraps. Taylor was also at work on an album called Muttymorphosis, an album that would have served as the late MC’s biography. He had hoped to release the album in 2016.
*originally published at the now defunct Examiner.com