Malik Izaak Taylor (November 20, 1970 – March 22, 2016), known professionally as Phife Dawg (or simply Phife), was an American rapper and a member of the group A Tribe Called Quest with Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad (and for a short time Jarobi White). He was also known as the "Five-Foot Assassin" and "The Five-Footer", because he stood at 5 feet 3 inches (1.60 m).
|Birth name||Malik Izaak Taylor|
|Also known as||Phife, Phife Dawg, The Phifer, Phife Diggy, The Five-Foot Assassin, The Five-Footer, Malik The Five-Foot Freak, The Funky Diabetic, Dynomutt, Mutty Ranks, The Trini-Gladiator, Don Juice, Dr. Pepper|
|Born||November 20, 1970|
Queens, New York, U.S.
|Died||March 22, 2016 (aged 45)|
Oakley, California, U.S.
|Labels||Jive, Groove Attack Records|
|Associated acts||A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Jungle Brothers, J Dilla, Hi-Tek, Pete Rock, Busta Rhymes, Queen Latifah, Monie Love, TLC|
Phife Dawg formed A Tribe Called Quest, then simply named Quest, with childhood friend Q-Tip and DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad in 1985; the group was later expanded with the addition of Jarobi White. A Tribe Called Quest were closely associated with fellow hip-hop acts De La Soul and Jungle Brothers, with the groups being collectively known as the Native Tongues. A Tribe Called Quest were initially offered a demo deal by Geffen Records in 1989, but signed to Jive Records to release their 1990 début People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm.
Phife Dawg's contributions to the group increased on their second album, 1991's The Low End Theory, which saw Phife—often referring to himself as "the Five-Foot Assassin"—rapping about social and political issues; the record has since been acclaimed by critics and fellow musicians. The group released three further albums throughout the decade—Midnight Marauders in 1993, Beats, Rhymes and Life in 1996, and The Love Movement in 1998—before disbanding as a result of conflict both with their record label and between members. The band's troubles, especially the sometimes tense relationship between Phife and Q-Tip, were featured in the 2011 documentary Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest, directed by Michael Rapaport.
In addition to being a member of pioneering hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest, Phife performed on songs with other artists. He was featured on the Fu-Schnickens song "La Schmoove", Diamond D's "Painz & Strife" with Pete Rock, and Chi-Ali's "Let the Horns Blow" with Dres, Al' Tariq and Trugoy. In 2000, he released his debut solo album, Ventilation: Da LP. In 2013, it was reported that Phife was working on a solo album titled MUTTYmorPHosis. A single titled "Sole Men" was released one day after Phife's death (March 23, 2016) along with a posthumously released music video. Another single, "Nutshell", was released online in April 2016 along with a posthumously released music video.
On November 13, 2015, A Tribe Called Quest reunited for a performance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. That night, Phife and Q-Tip decided to put aside their differences and record a new group album, We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service, in secrecy. Phife spent four months working on the album before his death; it was completed by the surviving group members and released on November 11, 2016. In February 2017, it was announced that Phife's second studio album, posthumously titled Forever, would be released later in the year. The single "Wanna Dance" was released that month and features Dwele and Mike City.
Phife Dawg was born as Malik Izaak Taylor to Cheryl Allison Boyce-Taylor and Walt Taylor on November 20, 1970. He was born prematurely and his twin Mikal died shortly after birth. His mother, a poet, was born in Arima, Trinidad and Tobago, later moving to the St. Albans neighborhood of Queens, New York when she was 13 years old. Phife described himself as a "West Indian" of Trinidadian descent. He was a cousin of writer Zinzi Clemmons.
Phife was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus in May 1990. Conflicting reports indicate it as type 1, while other sources report it as type 2. He mentioned being a "funky diabetic" in the single "Oh My God" from the group's third album, Midnight Marauders. After being on a waiting list for two years, Phife received a kidney transplant from his wife in 2008. It was unsuccessful, however, and by 2012 he once again required a transplant.
Phife has been described as having had a "self-deprecating swagger", and his work with A Tribe Called Quest helped to challenge the "macho posturing" of rap and hip-hop music during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Phife's work has been cited as an influence on Kanye West, Jill Scott, The Roots and Common, while the 1991 album The Low End Theory is considered one of the greatest hip-hop albums ever released.
On November 19, 2016, a portion of Linden Boulevard, at the intersection of 192nd Street in St. Albans, was honorarily renamed as Malik 'Phife Dawg' Taylor Way. The location is significant, as it was the site of the music video for A Tribe Called Quest's song "Check the Rhime".
|"Buddy (Native Tongue Decision)"||1989||De La Soul, Q-Tip, Jungle Brothers, Queen Latifah, Monie Love||Buddy (VLS)|
|"Let the Horns Blow"||1992||Chi-Ali, Dres, Fashion, Trugoy the Dove||The Fabulous Chi-Ali|
|"La Schmoove"||Fu-Schnickens||F.U. Don't Take It Personal|
|"Where Ya At?"||1993||Shaquille O'Neal||Shaq Diesel|
|"Giggin' on 'Em"|
|"Who Got the Funk"||1995||Science of Sound||Kaleidoscope Phonetics|
|"Artical"||Whitey Don, Chip Fu||Artical (VLS)|
|"Game Day"||1996||Rodney Hampton||NFL Jams|
|"Painz & Strife"||1997||Diamond D, Pete Rock||Hatred, Passions and Infidelity|
|"Let Me Be the One (Ummah Remix Featuring Phife)"||Mint Condition||Let Me Be the One (VLS)|
|"All I Do (Jay Dee's Shit! Mix)"||Somethin' for the People||All I Do (CDS)|
|"Never Say Goodbye"||1998||Adriana Evans||Ride soundtrack|
|"Phife's Speech"||2000||Ambivalence||Electric Treatment|
|"What's da Deal"|
|"Hold Ya Karna"||Mastermind, Nefarius||Mastermind Presents Volume 50: Street Legal|
|"In My Mind (Dodge's Main Mix)"||2001||Al Jarreau||Tomorrow Today (Reissue)|
|"In My Mind (Dodge's Melodic Mix)"|
|"Solo Movement"||K-Mel||Reflexions Vol. 1|
|"Take You There"||2002||AK1200||Shoot to Kill|
|"Nah Mean"||2003||will.i.am||Must B 21|
|"How It's Gonna Be"||2004||Truth Enola||6 O'Clock Straight|
|"How It's Gonna Be (Remix)"||Ten Past 6|
|"Scheming"||2010||Slum Village, Posdnuos||Villa Manifesto|
|"Tell the Whole City"||2011||Consequence||Movies on Demand 2|
|"They Say (Legendary Remix)"||T3, Rapper Big Pooh||3illa Madness|
|"Dues n Donts"||2012||Oh No, José James||Ohnomite|
|"Seek Well"||2013||CJ Fly, A La Sole||Thee Way Eye See It|
|"Push It Along"||2015||Slum Village||Yes!|
|"All Around the World"||2018||Black Eyed Peas, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Posdnuos||Masters of the Sun Vol. 1|
|"No Place Like Home"||2019||Consequence||N/A|
- 1993: Who's the Man? – Gerald
- 1998: The Rugrats Movie – Newborn Baby
- 2007: NBA 2K8 – Himself
- 2011: Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest – Himself
- 2017: NBA 2K18 - Himself
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