Phife Dawg remembered: Atlanta rappers, New York Knicks pay tribute

Phife Dawg back in the day. Photo by Robert Benavides.

Phife Dawg back in the day. Photo by Robert Benavides.

When Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor came to Atlanta in 2011 to discuss the release of Michael Rapaport’s “Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest,” documentary, he was funny and silly but with an underlying sweetness.

A New Yorker by birth and at heart – even the New York Knicks and NYC Mayor’s office paid tribute today – the diminutive rapper had a love affair with Atlanta, which didn’t sit well with his bandmates.

“One day Q (Tip) and I had an argument and I basically said, ‘Honestly, I moved down here because you get on my nerves,’ but that wasn’t the reason I moved. It was said in the heat of the moment,” Phife said that day at the Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta. “My reason for moving was because I was dating someone down here and I really loved Atlanta. I had a godmother here who showed me the ropes of the city. I’d make up reasons to come here.”

That relationship fizzled, and, even though Phife maintained a residence about 20 minutes outside of the city, he was committed to being a family man in the Bay Area in California, where his wife has roots.

On Wednesday afternoon, the rapper’s family confirmed in a statement that he died at age 45 due to complications from diabetes.

“Malik was our loving husband, father, brother and friend. We love him dearly. How he impacted all our lives will never be forgotten. His love for music and sports was only surpassed by his love of God and family.”

In 2008, Phife received a kidney transplant from his wife. In January, he told NPR that he was on a list for another kidney.

“I’m doing fine. I really, really can’t complain,” Phife said. “I could, but I won’t because God is really, really a good God, and I owe it all to him, you know?”

In November, A Tribe Called Quest reissued their 1990 debut, “People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm.” To celebrate the release, the group performed “Can I Kick It?” on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” It was ATCQ’s first performance in 15 years – and its last.

Check out the Phife Dawg tribute from WSB’s Mark Arum

Here is what some of Phife Dawg’s peers said on Twitter in his honor. And take a listen to “Bonita Applebum” below.

From “People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm”

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