Tribe Called Quest Founder, Phife Dawg, Dies At Age 45

Phife Dawg has left his place on earth to watch over the game from the hip hop heavens.  Malik Taylor, aka Phife Dawg, was born November 20th, 1970 and became one of the founders of the legendary hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest.  Phife grew up best friends with group member, Q-Tip, since the age of 2.  As hip-hop became a trend in his community, Phife was drawn to the mic at young age.  In 1990, at age 19, Phife debuted his career contributing to the Tribe Called Quest Album “People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm”.  Phife Dawg was the high-pitched voice that would compliment the mellow voice of Q-Tip.  Phife wasn’t a fan of the high-pitched signature, but this did not prevent the evolution of one of the most inspiring groups in hip-hop history.

The originators of the hip-hop, jazz fusion sound, the A Tribe Called Quest introduced the Low End Theory in 1991.  This album eventually became one of the top 500 albums of all time, according to rolling stone.

The group broke up and reunited multiple times since the release of their last album, 1998’s the Love Movement. As documented in Beats, Rhymes & Life, the group would sporadically reunite for live shows, but stopped short at recording new material.

Health problems deterred Taylor from recording much solo material, though the rapper released his only solo album Ventilation: Da LP in 2000. Speaking to Rolling Stone last November, Taylor was tentatively optimistic about both his health and future recording plans.  

“I am in a good spot, but I have my good days and I have my bad days,” he said at the time. “But I’m more or less in a good spot, so I can’t really complain.” In the same interview, Taylor revealed plans to release the J Dilla-produced “Nutshell,” the first single off a planned EP titled Give Thanks. The rapper released a video preview of the song, though a full version has yet to be released. Prior to his death, Taylor had also been at work on Muttymorphosis, his new LP that would have functioned as “basically my life story” that he hoped to have released later this year.
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