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Phife Dawg, Founding Member Of A Tribe Called Quest, Reportedly Dead At 45

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 23/03/2016 Julia Brucculieri
ATHENA IMAGE © Andrew H. Walker via Getty Images ATHENA IMAGE

Malik Isaac Taylor, better known as his stage name Phife Dawg, reportedly died on Wednesday at the age of 45, according to Rolling Stone. Billboard also reported the news. He was an influential founding member of the group A Tribe Called Quest.

The cause of death has not been announced, but as Rolling Stone notes, Taylor dealt with various health issues over the years. In 2008, he underwent a kidney transplant after complications with diabetes. 

In the late '80s, Phife Dawg co-founded the hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest with Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi White. The group often mixed jazz and other genres into their productions, which resulted in their now-iconic sound. With their lyrics, ATCQ challenged the stereotypes of hip-hop music. The group rapped about everything from the serious issue of date rape to the more mundane topic of ham and eggs

The group released five studio albums, including 1991's "The Low End Theory" and 1993's "Midnight Marauders." They released their last album, "The Love Movement," in 1998 after a few breakups and reunions. The legendary group was also the subject of a 2011 documentary called "Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest," directed by Michael Rapaport. 

Taylor, who was also known as the "Five Foot Assassin," put out one solo album, "Ventilation: Da LP," in 2000. Before his death, he was working on a second, which he described to Rolling Stone as "basically my life story.

Fans of Phife Dawg have taken to Twitter to share their thoughts and pay tribute to the rapper. Phife's impact on the music industry is undeniable.  

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!

A photo posted by Questlove Gomez (@questlove) on Mar 23, 2016 at 1:49am PDT

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