The rapper—real name Malik Taylor—was one of the original members of the seminal hip-hop group, appearing on all five of their studio albums. While the cause of death has yet to be announced, Taylor had been struggling with health issues for years, undergoing a kidney transplant in 2008 to deal with a long-time battle with Type 1 diabetes.
Update 3/23/16 12:40 p.m.: Phife's family has released an official statement.
On Wednesday afternoon, Phife's family released an official statement confirming that the rapper's untimely passing was due to complications resulting from his diabetes.
"We regret to share the news that on Tuesday March 22nd, 2016, Malik has passed away due to complications resulting from diabetes," they wrote. "Malik was our loving husband, father, brother and friend. We love him dearly. How he impacted all our lives will never be forgotten. His love for music and sports was only surpassed by his love of God and family."
Dion Liverpool, his manager added, "While I mourn the loss of my best friend and brother, I also will celebrate his incredible life and contribution to many people's ears across the world. Even with all his success, I have never met a person as humble as he. He taught me that maintaining a positive attitude and outlook can conquer anything. Now my brother is resting in greatness. I'm honored to have crossed paths with him. Riddim Kidz 4eva."
The family asks that their privacy be respected at this difficult time.