TRIBUTES have been paid to rapper Phife Dawg – a member of A Tribe Called Quest – who has died at the age of 45.
Music magazine Rolling Stone said it had confirmed the musician’s death, although an official statement has not been released.
While the cause of death has not yet been announced, the artist, born Malik Taylor, had suffered from diabetes since 1990 – undergoing a kidney transplant in 2008.
Phife Dawg co-founded A Tribe Called Quest in Queens, New York, with childhood friends Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad and appeared on all five of the group’s albums, including The Low End Theory in 1991 and Midnight Marauders two years later.
They had three singles in the UK Top 40, including their biggest hit Can I Kick It? which peaked at number 15 in 1991.
The band’s signature sound infused jazz with hip-hop, with Phife acting as the counterpunch to Q-Tip’s smooth rapping style.
Phife nicknamed himself the Funky Diabetic and the Five Foot Assassin – a reference to his diminutive stature.
The group broke up and reunited a number of times after their last album, The Love Movement in 1998.
Last November they reformed to perform Can I Kick It? on The Tonight Show in the US, marking 25 years since the release of their debut album.
Broadcaster DJ Chuck Chillout was among the first to post a tribute in the early hours of Wednesday and his Twitter message sparked an outpouring from the hip-hop and wider music world.
Public Enemy star Chuck D tweeted: “Rest In Beats PHIFE ATCQ Forever.”
Meanwhile, Kendrick Lamar asked 18,000 fans at a concert in Sydney to help him pay tribute to Phife Dawg “for allowing me to do what I’m doing right here, right now, on this stage today”. SkyNews
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