…David Letterman with the rest of the group because of complications from the disease. It was after that, the rapper made his battle with disease more public.
Following the group’s dissolution, Taylor continued to battle diabetes, reuniting with the group for live shows, in part, to help defray medical costs. “Even though I knew I had [diabetes], I was in denial,” Taylor said in the documentary. “I had to have my sugar. You have to accept it. If you don’t accept it, it’s going to kick your ass.”
Along with acts like De La Soul and Queen Latifah, the band were part of an overall movement that challenged the macho posturing of rap in the ’80s and ’90s. Their lyrics addressed issues like date rape and the use of the N-word in the track Sucker Niga, and avoided the hip-hop cliches of gunplay and expletives.
Musically, they fused jazz with hip-hop, often rapping over a drum loop and an upright bass – while 1991’s complex, atmospheric The Low End Theory has often been ranked among the best hip-hop albums of all time.
Rest In Peace, Phife.
Here’s a little walk down memory lane in the video below: