Phife Dawg Dies; A Tribe Called Quest Rapper Was 45

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Phife Dawg - the rapper best known for his work with legendary hip hop crew A Tribe Called Quest - has passed away at the age of 45.

No cause of death has been given, but the iconic emcee had been battling various health issues in recent years, most of them stemming from his lifelong struggle with diabetes.

The news of his passing was verified by DJ Statik Selektah on Twitter late last night.

"Confirmed. Rest in peace Phife. Man. I'm out," Selektah tweeted around 2:30. Within minutes Phife became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter.

Known for his inimitable delivery and wildly witty rhymes, Phife - real name Malik Taylor - helped Tribe become one of the most critically and commercially successful hip hop acts of the late '80s and early '90s.

Often referred to as the Five Foot Assassin due to his diminutive stature, Phife appeared on all five of Tribe's studio album, his gruff voice and gritty style always providing a sonically compelling contrast to Q-Tip's more mellow vocals.

After undergoing a kidney transplant in 2008, Phife often spoke openly about his increasingly severe health issues.

"I'm in a good spot, but I have my good days and my bad days," he recently told Rolling Stone.

Social media tributes to the late legend have been pouring in from family, friends, and the many, many rappers he influenced.

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