070711-music-tribe-called-quest-songs-portraitPhife Dawg the brilliant rapper from A Tribe Called Quest has died at the age of 45.

He was a key part of the outfit whose clever and brilliantly twisted the on the rap formulae was a key part of the golden era of the genre.

Real name Malik Taylor had had health issues for years, undergoing a kidney transplant in 2008 to deal with a longtime battle with Type 1 diabetes.

“It’s really a sickness,” Taylor said in Beats, Rhymes & Life, Michael Rapaport’s candid 2011 documentary on the group. “Like straight-up drugs. I’m just addicted to sugar.”

Taylor appeared on all five of the group’s studio albums, most notably 1991’s The Low End Theory and 1993’s Midnight Marauders, acting as the high-pitched, gruff vocal counterpoint to Q-Tip’s smooth, mellow flow. The group broke up and reunited multiple times since the release of their last album, 1998’s the Love Movement. As documented in Beats, Rhymes & Life, the group would sporadically reunite for live shows, but stopped short at recording new material.

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