Malik Taylor, the rapper known as Phife Dawg in A Tribe Called Quest, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 45 from complications resulting from diabetes. After an outpouring of tributes from friends, family and others in the hip-hop community and beyond, the surviving members released a statement on the rapper on Wednesday.
“Our hearts are heavy. We are devastated. 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 group said in the statement. “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.”
Taylor had suffered health issues for years and had experienced longterm struggles with diabetes. He had a kidney transplant in 2008.
“We love his family, his mother, his son, his wife, his nieces, his family here in New York, Atlanta, California and Trinidad,” the group continued. “Thank you for the outpouring of prayers and support from the fans, fellow artists, music outlets, blogs, radio stations, DJs, social media and the media community at large. This too is part of his joy and means a lot to him.”
After news of Taylor’s death spread on Wednesday, tributes continued throughout the day from all corners of the world from a range of artists, from Questlove and Chuck D, to Best Coast, Sean Lennon and Jenny Lewis. Kendrick Lamar paid tribute to the rapper during his show in Sydney, Australia.
“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. He’s affected us as much as he’s affected all of you,” the group wrote. “We’re inspired by his daily joy and courage. He wasn’t in pain. He was happy. We take comfort in knowing he will be beside his grandmother.”