Phife dawg, founding member of a tribe called quest, dead at 45

Phife Dawg, a founding member of the legendary hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest, died Wednesday, according to Rolling Stone.

Born Malik Taylor, Phife, also known as the Five Foot Assassin and The Five Footer, was a widely beloved member of the iconic group. Tribe formed in the mid-1980s, comprised of Phife, Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Jarobi White (who would later leave), and went on to release five celebrated albums, beginning with 1990’sPeople’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm.

Phife was known for his lyrical volleys with Q-Tip, a friend since their days as children in Queens. The group split following the release of their final album, 1998’s Grammy-nominated The Love Movement, though they’d reunite at times over the next decade-and-a-half, including in November, on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallonon the heels of the release of the 25th anniversary edition of their debut album.

In addition to his work with Tribe, Phife also released a solo album,Ventilation: Da LP, in 2000. In 2011, he and the group were the subjects of the documentary Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest, directed by Michael Rapaport, which focused both on Tribe’s groundbreaking music and success, and the history of tension within the crew.

Phife, who was a diabetic, had suffered some health setbacks in recent years, including undergoing a kidney transplant in 2008, though a cause of death has yet to be reported.