Born Malik Isaac Taylor, rapper Phife Dawg, a member of the legendary rap group, A Tribe Called Quest, musical ability will live on long after his death.
Taylor, known as ATCQ’s cocky, high-pitched MC, died in 2016 from diabetes complications. The rapper/producer spoke about his condition in his music, famously referring to himself as the “funky diabetic” in the group’s song “Oh My God.”
During a ceremony on the late rapper’s birthday in New York, Linden Boulevard was co-named as Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor Way at the intersection of 192nd Street in the Saint Albans neighborhood of Queens, New York City. Attendees included A Tribe Called Quest co-members Q-Tip and Jarobi White, extended Tribe family Busta Rhymes and Consequence, rapper Cormega, city government officials and members of Taylor’s family.
“It’s really a sickness,” Taylor said in Beats, Rhymes & Life, Michael Rapaport’s candid 2011 documentary on the group. “Like straight-up drugs. I‘m just addicted to sugar.”
The musician had been struggling with health issues associated with diabetes for several years, and received a kidney transplant from his wife in 2008.
Phife co-founded the hip-hop group in 1985 with his classmates Q-Tip, Jarobi and Ali Shaheed Muhammad. With hits like “Can I Kick It”, “Scenario”, and “Check The Rhime” the group was a favorite and grew millions of fans from all around the world.
The group would go on to make its mark as one of the most progressive hip-hop acts of its time. And commercial success didn’t elude them. ATCQ’s 1996 album Beats, Rhymes and Life reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and its follow-up, The Love Movement from 1998, peaked at No .3 on the chart (another, earlier set, Midnight Marauders, reached No. 8 on the U.S. chart in 1993). They were rewarded in 2005 with a Special Achievement Award at the Billboard R&B Hip-Hop Awards In Atlanta.
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. Phife, who had the nicknames “Five Foot Assassin” and “The Five Footer” because of his short stature (he stood at 5 ft. 3 in), released a solo album, Ventilation: Da LP, in 2000.
He also nicknamed himself as the “Funky Diabetic” in which he shared in the 2013 documentary film, “Beats, Rhymes & Life” was favorable among fans who also suffered from the disease. In the early 200’s, Phife had to cancel his appearance on…