A Tribe Called Quest MC Phife Dawg dies at the age of 45
Rapper Malik Isaac Taylor, better known as A Tribe Called Quest's Phife Dawg, has died. He was 45 years old. Taylor had been suffering health problems for several years; he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1990 and received a kidney transplant from his wife in 2008.
Taylor grew up in Queens, New York, where he founded A Tribe Called Quest with school friends Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Mohammed. The group released their debut album People's Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm in 1990 to considerable critical acclaim. The album kicked off a trilogy – continued by 1991's The Low End Theory and concluded with 1993's Midnight Marauders – that is widely recognised as one of the greatest and most influential album sequences in the history of hiphop. Parallel to this, the group formed the Afrodelic collective Native Tongues with De La Soul and Jungle Brothers, whose cultural impact can still be felt today in the work of artists like Shabazz Palaces, THEESatisfaction and Open Mike Eagle.
Though often overshadowed by the charismatic and hyperactive Q-Tip, Taylor was appreciated by fans for his sharp wit and earthy preoccupations. The MC was unafraid to flip his own health issues into an artful boast, dropping the line "When's the last time you heard a funky diabetic?" on 1993's "Oh My God".
A Tribe Called Quest's last two albums, 1996's Beats, Rhymes And Life and 1998's The Love Movement, were co-produced by Detroit beatmaker Jay Dee, later known as J Dilla, who alongside Pete Rock ahd Hi-Tek worked on Taylor's only solo album, 2000's Ventilation: Da LP. A follow-up with the working title of MUTTYmorPHosis was reputedly in the works.