NEW YORK (AP) -- Phife Dawg, a masterful lyricist whose witty wordplay was a linchpin of the groundbreaking hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest, died Tuesday from complications resulting from diabetes, his family said in a statement Wednesday. He was 45.
Dawg, born Malik Isaac Taylor, was known as the "Five Foot Assassin" because he was 5 feet 3 inches tall but earned respect for his skillful, thoughtful rhymes.
Dawg was part of number of rap classics with Tribe, including "Scenario," "Bonita Applebum" and "Can I Kick It?"
Dawg grew up in Queens, New York, with fellow Tribe member Q-Tip. In high school, the two members met Ali Shaheed Muhammad, who is from Brooklyn, to form Tribe. Jarobi White later joined the group. The group recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of its debut album.