Very sad news, rapper Phife Dawg (real name Malik Taylor), who is a member of rap pioneers A Tribe Called Quest, has died at the age of 45. BBC reports,
The musician had been struggling with ill health and diabetes for several years, and received a kidney transplant from his wife in 2008. Born Malik Isaac Taylor in 1970, he co-founded the philosophically-focused rap group in 1985 with his classmates Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad. Their biggest hit came in 1991, with the single Can I Kick It? The band recently reformed to perform the song on Jimmy Fallon’s US chat show, as they marked the 25th anniversary of their debut album People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. Disagreements between Q-Tip and Phife eventually derailed the group and in 1998 they announced their fifth album, The Love Movement, would be their last.
Following the group’s dissolution, Phife continued to battle diabetes, reuniting with the group for occasional live shows – partly to help cover the medical costs of his type 2 diabetes (often mis-reported as type 1). He suffered renal failure in 2008 and received a transplant from his wife – but was back on the waiting list for a kidney four years later. “It’s a strain on me as far as going where I want to go, doing what I want to do,” he said. “When I was on dialysis the first time, my stepson was playing basketball [and] I couldn’t practice with him. I wanted to go out and run with him and things of that nature, but I didn’t feel good.” “It’s really a sickness,” he added in Beats, Rhymes & Life, Michael Rapaport’s candid 2011 documentary on the group. “Like straight-up drugs. I’m just addicted to sugar.”
At the time of his death, Phife was working on a solo record, Muttymorphosis, which he described as “basically my life story”.
Update #2. The following statement has been released via Billboard.
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.