Phife Dawg, one of the Founding Members of ‘A Tribe Called Quest,’ dies at 45

As if the loss of musicians such as Bankroll Fresh, Maurice White (of Earth, Wind and Fire), and Glenn Frey (of The Eagles), among others, wasn’t enough, the world of music has lost another familiar face in Phife Dawg (of A Tribe Called Quest [ATCQ]).

Many thought the reports of Malik Isaac “Phife Dawg” Taylor’s death were another Twitter hoax that weren’t true. This morning at approximately 2  a.m., DJ Statik Selektah tweeted out a confirmation of the rapper’s death.



An outpouring of emotional tweets have been sent out in regards to his passing as a community mostly brought together by the stylings of Phife and the A Tribe Called Quest in regards to the way they changed the way Hip-hop was received. The laid back beats they rapped on and divergent style they chose to use set a precedent for how other artists would approach their music. Phife approached his verses with puns and wordplay that would occasionally have you wondering how he came up with the line.

When’s the last time you heard a funky diabetic? – Phife Dawg

Also known as “The Five-Foot Assassin,” “The Five Footer” and “Phife Diggy,” Phife brought a style of rap that altered the way many perceived Hip-hop. Though ATCQ occasionally stepped into the “women and money” area of Hip-hop that the genre is often tied generalized to solely contain, most of their rhymes came with substance and a legitimate meaning. Though the group had a bit of a falling out in their career, they mostly made up and even released a documentary–Beats, Rhyme and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Queston the group, which was more or less well-received by the group members.

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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.

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“Never half step, cuz I’m not a half stepper/ Drink a lot of soda, so they call me Dr. Pepper” -Phife Dawg

Phife brought a style of rap that made it fun to rap. Not only did he make music as a group, but he also spent some time working on and releasing a solo album, Ventilation: Da LPAs of this writing, there isn’t a publicly documented reason for his passing. Keep with us as we continue searching for updates.

UPDATE: According to Rolling Stone, Phife’s death came as a result of complications due to the diabetes he suffered from.

UPDATE 2: Here’s a cool video circulating around the Internet. A traffic reporter took it upon himself to make sure he dropped more than one A Tribe Called Quest line into his reports.

As a bit of a tribute, here are some of the more popular songs with verses from the Five Footer:


Hensley Carrasco
Hensley graduated from the University of Rhode Island where he was the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, the Good 5 Cent Cigar. He founded the site with hopes to add to the ever-growing digital music newsroom. Hensley generally writes about Hip-Hop, but other genres are not out of his writing spectrum. On the side, Hensley is a photographer, specializing in concert photography.

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