Phife Dawg, the rapper who formed part of the influential A Tribe Called Quest, has died at the age of 45.
It was known that the artist had been unwell with diabetes the last few years, having undergone a kidney transplant from his wife in 2008 reports the BBC.
Born Malik Isaac Taylor in 1970, he was known by his stage name Phife Dawg (or simply Phife) after he co-founded the rap band in 1985 with his classmates Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad. He was also known as the “Five Foot Assassin” and “The Five Footer”, because he stood at 5 ft 3 in.
Their stand out hit came in 1991, with the single Can I Kick It?.
The band recently reformed to perform the song on Jimmy Fallon’s US chat show, as they marked the 25th anniversary of their debut album People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm.
News of Phife Dawg’s death emerged on Twitter, where producer and broadcaster DJ Chuck Chillout posted an RIP message in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
RIP to phife dog of tribe called quest pic.twitter.com/f4t5fvg4WD
— DJ Chuck Chillout (@djchuckchillout) March 23, 2016
Rapper Chuck D was among those paying tribute to the star, calling him “a true fire social narrator”.
BBC 6 Music DJ Gilles Peterson said Phife and Q-Tip “complimented [sic] each other like Lennon and McCartney”, adding “their albums changed my life”.
EL-P from rap group Run The Jewels simply posted: “Rest In Peace Phife” alongside a video of fans chanting along to the rapper’s verse in Buggin’ Out.
A Tribe Called Quest have yet to make a statement or confirm the news of their bandmate’s death.
Never miss a story! Get your free Noise11.com daily music news email alert. Subscribe to the Noise11 Music Newsletter here