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Phife Dawg
Phife Dawg in 2009
Background information
Birth name Malik Isaac Taylor
Also known as Five Foot Assassin
Born (1970-11-20)November 20, 1970
Origin St. Albans, Queens, New York, U.S.
Died March 22, 2016(2016-03-22) (aged 45)
Genres Hip hop
Occupation(s) Rapper
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1988–2016
Labels Jive
Groove Attack Records
Associated acts A Tribe Called Quest
De La Soul
Jungle Brothers
J Dilla
Pete Rock
Busta Rhymes
Queen Latifah
Monie Love
Supa Dave West

Malik Isaac Taylor (November 20, 1970 – March 22, 2016), better known by his stage name Phife Dawg (or simply Phife), was an American rapper.

Early life

Phife Dawg was born Malik Izaak Taylor on November 20, 1970, in Queens, New York City, the son of Trinidadian immigrant parents Cheryl Boyce-Taylor, a poet, and Walt Taylor. Born prematurely, his twin brother Mikal died shortly after birth. His mother settled in the St. Albans neighborhood of Queens, where Phife Dawg was raised, when she was 13 years old. He was a cousin of writer Zinzi Clemmons.

He first met his friend Q-Tip at the age of two, and at nine years old, Phife Dawg suggested that they should rap, after hearing "Rapper's Delight" by the Sugarhill Gang for the first time. He attended Pine Forge Academy, a Seventh-day Adventist boarding school near Philadelphia, for his freshman year of high school, later transferring to Springfield Gardens High School in Queens.


Phife Dawg formed A Tribe Called Quest, then simply named Quest, with Q-Tip and DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad in 1985; the group was later expanded with the addition of Jarobi White. A Tribe Called Quest were closely associated with fellow hip-hop acts De La Soul and Jungle Brothers, with the groups collectively known as the Native Tongues. A Tribe Called Quest was initially offered a demo deal by Geffen Records in 1989, but signed to Jive Records to release its 1990 début People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm.

Phife Dawg's contributions to the group increased on its second album, 1991's The Low End Theory, which saw Phife—often calling himself "the Five-Foot Assassin"—rapping about social and political issues; the record has since been acclaimed by critics and musicians. The group released three more albums that decade—Midnight Marauders in 1993, Beats, Rhymes and Life in 1996, and The Love Movement in 1998—before disbanding as a result of conflict both with their record label and internally. The group's troubles, especially the sometimes tense relationship between Phife and Q-Tip, were featured in the 2011 documentary Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest, directed by Michael Rapaport.

Phife also performed with other artists.

In 2000, he released his debut solo album, Ventilation: Da LP. In 2013, it was reported that Phife was working on another solo album, MUTTYmorPHosis. A single, "Sole Men", was released one day after Phife's death (March 23, 2016) along with a posthumously released video. Another single, "Nutshell", was released online in April 2016 along with a posthumously released video.

On November 13, 2015, A Tribe Called Quest reunited for a performance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. That night, Phife and Q-Tip decided to put aside their differences and record a new group album, We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service, in secrecy. Phife spent four months working on the album before his death; it was completed by the surviving members and released on November 11, 2016. In February 2017, it was announced that Phife's second studio album would be released later in the year. The single "Wanna Dance" was released that month and features Dwele and Mike City.

Phife Dawg's second solo album, Forever, was released on March 22, 2022, the sixth anniversary of his death.

Personal life

Taylor was married to Deisha Head-Taylor and had two children, a daughter and a son. He was a fan of the New York Knicks, and was a playable character in the video games NBA 2K7 and NBA 2K9.

Health problems and death

Taylor was diagnosed with diabetes in 1990. In 2008, Taylor developed renal failure and received a kidney transplant from his wife, but it was unsuccessful, and by 2012 he again required a transplant.

On March 22, 2016, Taylor died at age 45 in his Oakley, California, home due to complications of diabetes.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Phife Dawg para niños

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