Phife Dawg, one of the co-founders of A Tribe Called Quest, has died, Rolling Stone reports. He was 45. While his cause of death is currently unknown, the rapper had health struggles for years. He was diagnosed with diabetes in 1990 and received a kidney transplant in 2008. Hip-hop producer Statik Selektah confirmed the news last night via Twitter.
Born Malik Taylor, Phife grew up in Queens with Q-Tip. Together with Ali Shaheed Muhammad, they formed A Tribe Called Quest in 1988. Their first recording, "Description of a Fool" was released in 1989. They were signed to Jive that year, and in 1990, they released their excellent debut album People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. The next year, they released another classic, The Low End Theory. They released three more LPs—1993’s Midnight Marauders, 1996’s Beats, Rhymes and Life, and 1998’s The Love Movement—before splitting up. Beginning in 2006, the group reunited off and on over the years. When it was announced that they’d perform with Kanye West in 2013, Q-Tip called those the final Tribe shows. They performed one last time in 2015 on "The Tonight Show" with the Roots.
Phife released one solo album, 2000’s Ventilation: Da LP, which featured production from J Dilla, Pete Rock, and others. He appeared on several other artist’s tracks. He was a huge sports fan, which he frequently referenced in his lyrics.