NEW YORK -- Iconic would be one way to describe Phife Dawg’s lyrical contributions to hip-hop.
One part of the legendary group "A Tribe Called Quest," the rapper whose real name was Malik Taylor, was a proud Queens native known for his bravado despite his stature.
“I’m just a fly MC who’s 5-foot-3 and very brave, on job remaining no home training cause I misbehave,” he once proclaimed in the Tribe’s 1990 hit “Check The Rhime.”
The self-proclaimed "funky diabetic" passed away Tuesday.
His family and manager confirmed the news, saying the 45-year-old died due to complications of diabetes.
Although he was taken too soon, Taylor leaves behind an inventory of classics.
“There was an amazing interplay between Phife and Q-Tip,” explained Alex Gale, Senior Editor at Billboard. “Q-Tip has this very smooth voice, almost like a jazz musician speaking to you while Phife has this higher, more grainy, up-front voice and they were the perfect Ying and Yang.
It was that Ying and Yang relationship that ultimately led to the Tribe’s demise.
Both Phife and his longtime collaborator Q-Tip went their separate ways amid ongoing conflict.
A split well documented in the 2011 documentary “Beats, Rhymes and Life.”
While Phife was always open to getting the group back together, it was his health that got in the way.
Receiving a kidney transplant in 2008, his fight with Diabetes was something he never shied away from talking about and it was what ultimately silenced the MC.
“He really brought diabetes into the forefront,” Gale said. “Diabetes does really affect people of color and to have a New York City hip-hop icon talk about it, really made it ok to have it out there in the world.”