Rapper Phife Dawg, best known as a member of A Tribe Called Quest, died on Tuesday due to complications resulting from diabetes, his family confirmed. He was 45.
According to Rolling Stone, the rapper, born Malik Isaac Taylor, had been experiencing poor health and struggling with Type 1 diabetes for the past few years, and received a kidney transplant from his wife in 2008. Last year he told NPR he was on the list to receive another kidney.
“Malik was our loving husband, father, brother and friend,” his family said in a statement. “We love him dearly. How he impacted all our lives will never be forgotten. His love for music and sports was only surpassed by his love of God and family.”
“Our hearts are heavy. We are devastated,” ATCQ said in a statement. “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 father’s call.”
His manager Dion Liverpool said, “While I mourn the loss of my best friend and brother, I also will celebrate his incredible life and contribution to many people’s ears across the world. Even with all his success, I have never met a person as humble as he. He taught me that maintaining a positive attitude and outlook can conquer anything. Now my brother is resting in greatness. I’m honored to have crossed paths with him. Riddim Kidz 4eva.”
Taylor was easy to pick out on ATCQ’s music and was known for his high-pitched voice. “I hated my voice back then,” he revealed to NPR last year. “I absolutely hated that high-pitch. If there was one thing I would do over, I would redo that.”
In 2015, Taylor also spoke of plans to release an EP and teased a song, “Nutshell,” produced by J Dilla in an interview with Rolling Stone. He was also working on an album Muttymorphosis, that he had hoped would share “basically my life story,” the magazine reports.
RELATED: Stars We Lost in 2016
The group recently celebrated their 25th anniversary and performed their breakout song “Can I Kick It?” on Jimmy Fallon last year. They also reissued their debut album, People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, that year.
DJ Chuck Chillout broke the news on Twitter when he posted a message early Wednesday morning.
Soon after, other members of the entertainment community also expressed their grief.
The group thanked the “outpouring” kind words and prayers for their late member. “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,” ATCQ said in a statement. “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.”