Malik Taylor, better known as Phife Dawg of the pivotal hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest, has died this morning at the age of 45. In a statement released by his family, diabetes was cited as the cause of his passing. The artist had been struggling with related health issues since the late 2000's.
Now, A Tribe Called Quest have released a statement acknowledging the emcee's life.
"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 fight to keep his family happy, his soul happy and those around him happy, gave him complete and unadulterated joy... until he heeded his fathers call."
The statement ends with the group sending their condolences for "the outpouring of prayers," noting, "He's affected us as much as he's affected all of you. We're inspired by his daily joy and courage. He wasn't in pain. He was happy."
All day, artists across the music world have been acknowledging Phife's contributions to music and culture. Kendrick Lamar paid tribute to the funky diabetic during a tour stop in Australia. Talib Kweli penned an essay on Phife's influence for Billboard. An Atlanta traffic reporter even snuck a few ATCQ bars into his hourly report today.