The internet has been ablaze with heartfelt words and A Tribe Called Quest lyrics in tribute to one of the group’s founding members, Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor, who passed away last night. Phife’s family released a statement yesterday, confirming the rapper succumbed to complications as a result of his Type 1 diabetes. He was 45.
“We regret to share the news that on Tuesday March 22nd, 2016, Malik has passed away due to complications resulting from diabetes. Malik was our loving husband, father, brother and friend. We love him dearly. How he impacted all our lives will never be forgotten. His love for music and sports was only surpassed by his love of God and family.”
Phife Dawg founded the seminal hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest with fellow rapper and school friend Q-Tip in 1985. Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi White completed the group and they released their debut album People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. Since then ATCQ have delivered some of hip-hop’s most influential songs, with Phife’s distinct rapping style and lyrical content cementing him as many fans’ GOATs.
His personal influence has been made very clear by the sheer amount of tributes flooding all social media platforms. From world famous music industry names to probably all your high school mates, fans all over the world continue to pay their respects to The Five Footer online, sharing their favourite lyrics, first memories, and overall gratitude for Phife’s contribution to music. Check out some of the tributes in the gallery above, preferably while bumping ATCQ.
Rest in peace, Phife Dawg.
UPDATE: A Tribe Called Quest has issued the following statement via their website.
Our hearts are heavy. We are devastated. This is something we weren’t prepared for although we all know that life is fleeting. It was no secret about his health and his fight. But the fight for his joy and happiness gave him everything he needed. The fight to keep his family happy, his soul happy and those around him happy, gave him complete and unadulterated joy… until he heeded his fathers call.
We love his family his mother, his father, his son, his wife, his nieces, his family here in New York, Atlanta, California and Trinidad.
Thank you for the outpouring of prayers and support from the fans, fellow artists, music outlets, blogs, radio stations, DJ’s, social media and the music community at large. This too is part of his joy and means a lot to him. His family is overwhelmed by the support, well wishes and are thankful. His music and what he’s contributed is seismic and hard to measure. He’s affected us as much as he’s affected all of you. We’re inspired by his daily joy and courage. He wasn’t in pain.
He was happy. We take comfort in knowing he will be beside his grandmother.
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!
Our hearts are heavy this am. Phife Dawg you were integral to a movement that birthed so many of us artistically. “Butter” still to this day makes me picture the sky with two moons. Thank you for your legacy, thank you for your time. God bless your family and friends. You will be missed. ?? A photo posted by Pharrell Williams (@pharrell) on
Me watching the big bros Bussa Buss and Phife speak, and just nodding and taking mental notes. True legends. #RIPPHIFE AYO BO KNOWS THIS & BO KNOWS THAT BUT BO DONT KNOW JACK CAUSE BO CANT RAP well what do you know
A photo posted by Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) on