(CBS SF) – Malik Isaac Taylor, better known in the Hip Hop world as “Phife Dawg” of A Tribe Called Quest passed away on Wednesday, March 23rd. He was 45. Taylor’s cause of death was due to complications from diabetes, according to the Wall Street Journal. In May of 1991, the Contra Costa County resident was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. In 2008, Taylor received a kidney transplant, reportedly from his wife.

Related: Phife Dawg’s Family Issues Official Statement

In actor Michael Rapaport’s 2011 documentary Beats, Rhymes & Life, Taylor said “It’s really a sickness, like straight-up drugs. I’m just addicted to sugar.” The artist referred to himself as the “Funky Diabetic” in several “Tribe” songs.

(L-R) Jarobi White, Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Consequence of "A Tribe Called Quest (credit: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

(L-R) Jarobi White, Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Consequence of “A Tribe Called Quest (credit: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)


A Tribe Called Quest rose to fame in the early 90’s. The Hip Hop crew consisted of Phife Dawg, Jonathan Davis aka Q-Tip, Jarobi White and DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad. White has since left the group. Signing with Jive Records, the crew released five studio albums. Their first album, People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm spawned off hits like “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo,” “Bonita Applebum” and “Can I Kick It?”

Through 1996, A Tribe Called Quest would put out The Low End Theory, Midnight Marauders, Beats, Rhyme & Life and The Love Movement, most reaching Platinum Certification.


In November 2015, A Tribe Called Quest performed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon where the crew celebrated their 25th anniversary of the release of the first album.

Related: Artists React to Phife Dawg’s Passing

Many celebrities and members in the Hip Hop community paid their respect through social media:
https://twitter.com/MrChuckD/status/712558615341588480/photo/1

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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!

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