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Phife publicly battled health issues, including diabetes and kidney failure. His wife donated one of her kidneys to the rapper, which was depicted in the documentary. The family issued a statement that Phife passed from complications due to diabetes.

A Tribe Called Quest issued a statement as well, which read:

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.

“We love his family his mother, his father, his son, his wife, his nieces, his family here in New York, Atlanta, California and Trinidad. Thank you for the outpouring of prayers and support from the fans, fellow artists, music outlets, blogs, radio stations, DJ’s, social media and the music community at large.

This, too, is part of his joy and means a lot to him. 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. We’re inspired by his daily joy and courage. He wasn’t in pain. He was happy.”

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Little Known Black History Fact: Malik ‘Phife Dawg’ Taylor  was originally published on

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