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Music

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

Phife Dawg

Phife Dawg, right, formed the trailblazing hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest in the late 1980s in New York with his childhood friend Q-Tip, left. He was 45. Full obituary

(Los Angeles Times)

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.

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“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.

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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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