A Tribe Called Quest‘s Phife Dawg has passed away at age 45. Word of his death popped on Twitter overnight, and Rolling Stone confirmed his death Wednesday morning; an official statement has yet to be released. Born Malik Taylor in 1970, he suffered from health issues in recent years, undergoing a kidney transplant in 2008 to deal with his longtime battle with Type 1 diabetes. “It’s really a sickness,” Taylor said in the band’s 2011 documentary, Beats, Rhymes & Life. “Like straight-up drugs. I’m just addicted to sugar.”
Taylor co-founded A Tribe Called Quest in 1985 with, Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad, his classmates from Queens, New York; a fourth band member,Jarobi White, left the group after the release of their first album. Together, the rappers recorded five albums: 1990’s People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, 1991’s The Low End Theory, 1993’s Midnight Marauders, 1996’s Beats, Rhymes and Life and 1998’s The Love Movement. Taylor released his only solo album, Ventilation: Da LP, in 2000. The trio broke up and reunited multiple times following the release of their last album, and they would sporadically reunite for live concerts. Their influence in hip-hop is almost unrivaled with their recordings sounding as relevant today as it did upon their release. Check out Tribe Called Quest on Letterman in 1996 following the release of Beats, Rhymes & Life.