Phife Dawg (aka Malik Taylor), a founding member of one of hip-hop’s seminal groups, A Tribe Called Quest, has died aged just 45 years old. The Queens-born rapper formed Tribe in 1985 with his childhood friend Q-Tip (aka Kamaal Ibn John Fareed), later joining forces with Ali Shaheed Muhammad and sporadic collaborator Jarobi White. The group—with strong ties to De La Soul, Jungle Brothers and Busta Rhymes, among countless others—is widely known as one of the most artistic and trailblazing throughout hip-hop’s colorful and inventive history. Phife (whose lyrics oftentimes refer to his short stature) was a lithe and clever rapper; his witty and occasionally cheeky lyrics were smattered with puns—with some of the best found in “Buggin’ Out” and the stunning “Electric Relaxation.” Diagnosed with diabetes in 1990, Phife (a self-proclaimed “funky diabetic”) received a kidney transplant from his wife almost a decade ago. An influential and proficient artist, the Five Foot Assassin has left the legacy of a giant.
A Tribe Called Quest: Electric Relaxation