Phife Dawg, hip-hop innovator with A Tribe Called Quest, dies at 45


Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor, a member of the trailblazing hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest, died of complications resulting from diabetes Tuesday, according to a statement released by his family. He was 45 years old and had suffered health problems in recent years. Rolling Stone said he underwent a kidney transplant in 2008.

“Malik was our loving husband, father, brother and friend,” the statement read. “We love him dearly. How he impacted all our lives will never be forgotten.”

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Phife Dawg formed A Tribe Called Quest in the late 1980s in New York with his childhood friend Q-Tip. The group’s debut album, “People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm,” came out in 1990 and was praised for its jazzy beats and sophisticated rhymes.

“The Low End Theory” followed in 1991, yielding the hit single “Scenario,” which featured a young Busta Rhymes.

Phife Dawg took part in several more Tribe albums before the group broke up in the wake of 1998’s “The Love Movement.” He released a solo album, “Ventilation: Da LP,” in 2000.

In 2004, Tribe reunited to play the Rock the Bells festival in Anaheim; the group continued to perform intermittently over the next decade. An acclaimed documentary, “Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest,” came out in 2011, directed by Michael Rapaport.

Last fall, Tribe issued a 25th-anniversary edition of its debut album and performed on “The Tonight Show.”


Tributes to Phife Dawg rippled across social media early Wednesday, including a lengthy Instagram post by Questlove of the Roots, in which he recalled hearing “Scenario” for the first time.

“I swear to god THAT was the moment I knew I wanted to make THIS type of music when I grew up,” he wrote.

Twitter: @mikaelwood


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