Diabetes Claims The Life Of Rapper Phife Dawg

Complications from diabetes has claimed the life of A Tribe Called quest rapper Phife Dawg, who passed away at the age of 45 yesterday.

Phife Dawg, real name Malik Isaac Taylor, and also called the “Five Foot Assassin”, was a founding member of the Tribe, which he put together with rapper Q-Tip in 1985. As a group, A Tribe Called Quest recorded nearly half a dozen albums and completed several tours.

Phife would also enjoy success as a solo artist, and his influence has been cited by artists ranging from Jill Scott to The Roots to Common and even Kanye West.


Phife was reportedly diagnosed with diabetes in 1990. He made his diagnosis part of one of his songs (“Oh My God”) in which he referred to himself as a “funky diabetic”.

Phife made headlines in 2008 when he received a kidney transplant from his wife. The procedure was ultimately unsuccessful and Phife was in need of a transplant once again by 2012.

Phife was known for his self-deprecating humor and had no issue with discussing the challenges of living life as a diabetic while also craving excess sweets.

In a documentary about the Tribe, called Beats, Rhymes & Life, Phife had this to say about his need for goodies:

“Like straight-up drugs. I’m just addicted to sugar.”

R.I.P. Phife Dawg  (November 20, 1970 – March 22, 2016)