( 4UMF NEWS ) Phife Dawg Dead At 45:
Tell your mother, tell your father, send a telegram: The ever-clever A Tribe Called Quest rapper Phife Dawg died Tuesday at 45.
A cause of death has not been announced since Rolling Stone broke the news. But the beloved rapper — real name Malik Taylor — had for years been open about his health struggles, especially a battle with Type 1 diabetes.
“It’s really a sickness,” he said in the 2011 documentary “Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest,” which put a spotlight on his health issues. “Like straight-up drugs. I’m just addicted to sugar.”
Taylor underwent a kidney transplant in 2008 thanks to a donation from his wife.
Fellow rap giants mourned Taylor’s passing on social media.
“Every hip hop head was just…stunned,” Questlove wrote in a lengthy Instagram post, recalling when he listened to the group’s seminal album “The Low End Theory.”
“HE. CAME. FOR. BLOOD & was taking NO prisoners on this album (or ever again).”
The rapper grew up in Queens with bandmate Kamaal Fareed — a.k.a. Q-Tip — and the two formed A Tribe Called Quest with Ali Shaheed Muhammad when they were teenagers.
The group dropped its debut album, “People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm,” in 1990, immediately earning a devoted following. They followed it next year with “The Low End Theory,” a smooth-as-butter mix of jazz and hip-hop that stands in minds of many fans as the band’s brightest moment.
A Tribe Called Quest dropped three more albums through the ‘90s, with Taylor appearing on every one. His high-pitched rhymes stood in contrast to Q-Tip’s savory flow.
Taylor’s health problems kept him from building a solo career once Tribe broke up in 1998, but the band reunited for shows over the years.
Taylor alluded to tensions with his former bandmates, but kept a tight lip about the dirty details. Still, even near the end of his life he was itching to see Tribe ride again.
“It’s dumb,” he told Rolling Stone in November about the band’s end, “and I don’t agree with it and we’re doing the fans a great injustice by not getting together and rocking.”