Straight out of the Queens area of New York, Malik Isaac Taylor (better known as Phife Dawg) was an essential piece of the Hip-Hop culture. Putting together A Tribe Called Quest with his friends Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad, The Five-Foot Assassin (standing 5 foot 3 inches) and his crew went on to make tons of classic records. A Tribe Called Quest possessed pioneer-abilities in the way they transformed Hip-Hop.
The Hip-Hop community was shaken up Tuesday night, to find out news of Phife Dawg passing away. He’s had a long battle with diabetes, going by the nickname “The Funky Diabetic,” as he once said. While his death is not known for cause, Phife has had a struggle of diabetes. It was shortly after the group (with Jarobi White) released their April 1990 debut album People’s Instinctive Paths and The Paths of Rhythm, that Phife was diagnosed with diabetes.
“I became diabetic in May of 1990. It’s hereditary.” Phife said during an 2010 interview with OkayPlayer. My moms is diabetic but even growing up seeing her having to take insulin shots and things of that nature, I didn’t take heed because I was still waking up to a glass of Quik, you know what I’m saying? Oreo cookies for breakfast, just stupid shit. It didn’t make it any better that we were on the road performing, eating KFC, McDonalds, shit like that and I was going hard when we was younger.”
Shortly after his 2008 kidney transplant, there was a time when Phife’s depression kicked in, leaving him disconnected with friends and family. “No disrespect, I was just really out of it,” Phife told HipHopDX in 2010. During the search for a donor, the perfect match ironically came from his wife.
Chuck D on the passing of Phife: “Phife-Hiphop & Rap word Warrior, simple as that. Breathed it & lined-rhyme into Sport. A true fire, social narrator, my bro.”
Slashing a path into the culture, it was even unforeseen by Phife what would be the result of their creativity.
“When we were doing Hip-Hop when were kids, I never knew it was gonna be this big. I never knew it was gonna be this worldwide and crazy but I humbly accept.” – Phife speaking on recognition.
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