According to a statement from his family and manager (via Pitchfork), the Five-Foot Assassin succumbed to the Type 1 disease, which he’d been battling for years after first being diagnosed in 1990 and receiving a kidney transplant from his wife in 2008.
Meanwhile, as news of his death at the young age of 45 continues to spread, tributes to the pint-sized MC are beginning to flow in from across the hip-hop community and beyond.
Among them, Kendrick Lamar offered a powerful tribute during his show in Sydney last night, saying: “We lost one of the pioneers of hip-hop today,” and starting an 18,000-person chant for Phife.
Talib Kweli penned a tribute essay forBillboard on Phife Dawg, describing the immense influence he had on both himself and hip-hop itself. “Phife Dawg was authenticity in the flesh,” he writes. “Loyal to a fault and fiercely protective of this culture we call hip-hop, Phife embodies the very best of us. The Trini gladiator, the anti-hesitator — Phife will forever be a part of the reason for the music I love and make a living from. And for that, I owe him the world.”
While on social media, Questlove, Chance The Rapper, Sean Lennon and more have all paid their respects, and Larry Fisherman AKA Mac Miller has shared his own take on Diggy’s famous 5 Foot Assassin freestyle as tribute.
Feel the Phife Dawg love below.
UPDATE 24/03/16, 10.31am: A Tribe Called Quest have also now shared a statement, read it below.
Statement from A Tribe Called Quest:
Our hearts are heavy. We are devastated. This is something we weren’t prepared for although we all know that life is fleeting. It was no secret about his health and his fight. But the fight for his joy and happiness gave him everything he needed. The fight to keep his family happy, his soul happy and those around him happy, gave him complete and unadulterated joy… until he heeded his fathers call.
We love his family his mother, his father, his son, his wife, his nieces, his family here in New York, Atlanta, California and Trinidad.
Thank you for the outpouring of prayers and support from the fans, fellow artists, music outlets, blogs, radio stations, DJ’s, social media and the music community at large. This too is part of his joy and means a lot to him. His family is overwhelmed by the support, well wishes and are thankful. His music and what he’s contributed is seismic and hard to measure. He’s affected us as much as he’s affected all of you. We’re inspired by his daily joy and courage. He wasn’t in pain. He was happy.
We take comfort in knowing he will be beside his grandmother.
King Kendrick Lamar pays tribute to the late Phife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest
Posted by Matt and Alex on Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Phife forever 1970-2016. 1991 in Sept I went to visit Tariq at Millersville U in the middle of PA (Lancaster). Miles Davis had just passed & I went on a binge to study his post jazz works. Went to Sound Of Market to purchase Nefertiti, In A Silent Way & Live Evil—the only non jazz purchase I made that day ironically was the most jazziest album in that collection: #TheLowEndTheory by @ATCQ. —it was raining that day so somehow the 1…2 punch of “Nefertiti”/”Fall” just had me in a trance that train trip—even though I suspected there was a possibility that Tribe could possibly have made a better album then their debut (the perfect @@@@@ mic Source rating would be on stands in a week so I was right)—but I knew I wanted to save that listening for when I got up to the campus w Riq.—so some 90mins later when I get to his dorm–we ripped that bad boy open (I can’t describe the frustration that was CD packaging in 1991, just imagine the anger that environmentalists feel when all that paper packaging in Beats headphone gets wasted—it’s like that)—the sign of a true classic is when a life memory is burnt in your head because of the first time you hear a song. —Riq & I had this moment a few times, but the look on our faces when we 1st heard “Buggin Out” was prolly Me & Tariq’s greatest “rewind selector!” moment in our friendship. (Back then every MC’s goal was to have that “rewind!!!” moment. As in to say something so incredible. Or to catch you by surprise that it makes you go “DAAAAAYUM!!!”& you listen over & over—Malik “Phife” Taylor’s verse was such a gauntlet/flag planting moment in hip hop. Every hip hop head was just…stunned HE. CAME. FOR. BLOOD & was taking NO prisoners on this album (or ever again) we just kept looking at the speaker on some disbelief old timey radio Suspense episode. & also at each other “Phife is KILLIN!”–by the time we got to “Scenario” I swear to god THAT was the moment I knew I wanted to make THIS type of music when I grew up–(yeah yeah dad I know: “go to Juilliard or Curtis to make a nice living at “real music”) but he didn’t know that Phife & his crew already wrote my destiny. I ain’t look back since. THANK YOU PHIFE!
A photo posted by Sean Ono Lennon (@sean_ono_lennon) on
I like brown ,yellow Puerto Rican or Haitian name is phife dog from the Zulu nation. Rip Phife pic.twitter.com/rSy8pSKnxC
— Chris Rock (@chrisrock) March 23, 2016
A photo posted by Talib Kweli (@talibkweli) on