A Tribe Called Quest ‘Devastated’ Over Phife Dawg’s Death: ‘We Weren’t Prepared’

Not ready to say goodbye. On Wednesday, March 23, A Tribe Called Quest released a statement regarding the March 22 death of their bandmate Malik I. Taylor, popularly known as Phife Dawg the "5 Foot Assassin."

"Our hearts are heavy. We are devastated. This is something we weren't prepared for although we all know that life is fleeting," the statement reads. "It was no secret about his health and his fight. But the fight for his joy and happiness gave him everything he needed,” the group wrote of the beloved rapper. “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.”

As Us Weekly previously reported, Dawg passed away at age 45 due to type 1 diabetes, which he was reportedly diagnosed with in 1990. In 2008, he underwent a kidney transplant because of complications from the disease.

"We love his family, his mother, his father, his son, his wife, his nieces, his family here in New York, Atlanta, California and Trinidad,” Dawg’s former collaborators added. "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. We take comfort in knowing he will be beside his grandmother."

Other artists have taken to social media to pay respects to the late hip-hop star. DJ Chuck Chillout tweeted: "RIP to phife dog of tribe called quest. I just don't understand people comments today is a sad day for hip hop."

His pal Questlove took to Instagram to share sweet sentiments as well, revealing that Dawg’s track “Scenario” inspired his career.

"I swear to god THAT was the moment I knew I wanted to make THIS type of music when I grew up," he wrote. "(yeah yeah dad I know: 'go to Juilliard or Curtis to make a nice living at 'real music') but he didn't know that Phife & his crew already wrote my destiny. I ain't look back since. THANK YOU PHIFE!"

Dawg cofounded the group A Tribe Called Quest in 1985 with Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad. Fans know them best for hits such as "Scenario," "Can I Kick It?" and "Award Tour."

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