“Microphone check, one, two what is this…” I have always considered this one of the greatest introductory lines; it’s from A Tribe Called Quest’s Buggin’ Out.
Now hip-hop has lost a legend. Malik Isaac Taylor AKA Phife Dawg, of the legendary group A Tribe Called Quest (along with Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad), has reportedly passed away at the young age of 45.
The news was posted by DJ Chuck Chillout on Twitter earlier today.
RIP to phife dog of tribe called quest pic.twitter.com/f4t5fvg4WD
— DJ Chuck Chillout (@djchuckchillout) March 23, 2016
A few hours after Statik Selektah tweeted this:
Confirmed. rest in peace Phife. Man. I'm out.
— Statik Selektah (@StatikSelekt) March 23, 2016
The exact cause of his death remains unknown, but the New York rapper (who referred to himself as the “funky diabetic” in the single Oh My God) did have diabetes and had been battling health issues for the past couple of years.
A Tribe Call Quest are regarded as one of the pioneers of old-school hip-hop and released five critically acclaimed studio albums. They were recently the focus of a documentary by actor Michael Rapaport, Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest that examines the music of the 1990s hip-hop group as well as the conflicts that drove the band members apart.
Phife, The Five Foot Assassin, released his debut solo album, Ventilation: Da LP, in 2000 and as of 2013 it was reported that Phife was working on a solo album titled MUTTYmorPHosis.
Many of his peers and fellow artists in the game have already taken to social media to pay their respects and condolences.
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
Phife’s contribution to hip-hop will forever be remembered, and A Tribe Called Quest will keep being honoured and respected in the hip-hop game.
Rest in peace, Phife, your presence will be missed.