Legends Never Die | Phife Dawg of ATCQ Passes At 46

Phife Dawg Lives on Forever Through His Music

Those that have connected to hip hop’s soul were hit with extremely painful news today. The love runs deep for hip hop and the highly influential crew, A Tribe Called Quest. It is with a heavy heart that I write that it has been confirmed that Phife Dawg, of the crew including Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Jarobi White has passed at the young age of 45.

There has been no word as to how he passed yet. DJ Chuck Chillout announced his death on Twitter and since there has been a slew of condolences and sadness through mass social media. Statik Selektah, Aesop Rock, Sol, Rakaa, Nottz, Freddie Gibbs, Immortal Technique, Mega Ran, Rapsody, Rapper Big Pooh, and Chuck D were a few of the many to express their shock at losing the legend.

Those of us that grew up and were shaped as individuals by the sound and clever cadence and delivery of the poetic lyricism that was A Tribe Called Quest, understand what a loss this is to Hip Hop, and the world. The resurgence of, and nostalgic admiration for, 90’s fashion and music has introduced a younger generation to Tribe’s progressive, intellectual lyrics and style as well. For many, it has been a refreshing change from the ever-present factory-packaged bubble gum rap that has been produced en mass as of late. A Tribe Called Quest is timeless. Tribe changed lives. Tribe created intellectual conversation. Tribe is at the heart of hip hop culture.

For now, we can only speculate about what happened but Phife Dawg or Malik Isaac Taylor has struggled with type-1 diabetes since 1990. Being referred to as the “funky diabetic” in the crew’s song “Oh My Gawd” from Tribe’s third album Midnight Marauders, was more than just clever lyricism, it was his life until death.

Here at RIZE Entertainment, our hearts go out to Phife’s family and friends. Peace of heart and power of mind to you all.


Maybe one thing that we all can take from this is the lesson to appreciate those around us and those that have impacted our lives. Too many of hip hop’s most creative and influential icons have passed without their dues being paid to them, without their deserved flowers. Rapper Big Pooh retweeted a tweet that I could not agree with more, “Please… give them their roses while they can still smell them. The legends walk among us every day. Don’t take that for granted. Appreciate their classics but many are still working and need our support in 2016.”

Phife continues to illuminate hip hop, its importance, and his fellow emcees even after death. We appreciate you, this isn’t goodbye. Salute to a legend because legends never die.

“Rapping is an art, coming straight from the heart, so forget the charts, because the action can start” – Phife Dawg, Hot Sex

Luna Reyna

Luna Reyna (she/ella) is the founder of RIZE Entertainment. She is deeply invested in shifting power structures and centering and amplifying the work and voices of systematically excluded within the arts. She believes that art is vital for revolutionary practice and movements and hopes that RIZE can be an instrument for amplifying art that expresses the conditions of an unjust society and facilitates healing.