It's a sad day for hip-hop fans as Rolling Stone confirms that A Tribe Called Quest founder Phife Dawg, real name Malik Taylor, passed away on Tuesday. The 45-year old founded the legendary rap group with Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammed in 1985. Together the group put forth iconic tracks including "Can I Kick It" and "Scenario."
Taylor's official cause of death has not been announced, but the MC has had several health issues over the years, including a kidney transplant in 2008 due to a long battle with Type 1 diabetes. Celebrities and musicians alike, including Questlove and Kerry Washington, posted an outpour of support for Phife Dawg and his family at this sad time, citing his influence on modern hip-hop and their own careers.
Read what they had to say below:
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!
Huge loss today. A legend. A NY hip-hop originator. #RIPPhifeDawg Sending love to his close friends and fam. Today we are all in the Tribe.— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) March 23, 2016
I like brown ,yellow Puerto Rican or Haitian name is phife dog from the Zulu nation. Rip Phife pic.twitter.com/rSy8pSKnxC— Chris Rock (@chrisrock) March 23, 2016
RIP Phife. He was a key ingredient to one of the greatest groups ever. Influenced and touched so many lives, mine included..Tribe all day— Macklemore (@macklemore) March 23, 2016
A pioneer of hip hop has left us. Rest in peace, Phife— Elijah Wood (@elijahwood) March 23, 2016
Phife-HipHop & Rap word Warrior, simple as that.Breathed it & lined rhyme into Sport.A true fire Social Narrator my bro #RIBeats ATCQforever— Chuck D (@MrChuckD) March 23, 2016
Damn. #RIPPhife one of the greatest to bless the mic— Russell Simmons (@UncleRUSH) March 23, 2016