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The founding member of the group died Tuesday after struggling from ill-health (including type 1 diabetes) for several years. He also underwent a kidney transplant in 2008.
Born Malik Isaac Taylor in 1970, he first met his groupmates Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad while in high school, and would later meet Jarobi White. In the late ’80s and ’90s, the group was one of the first to challenge gangsta, machismo rap by avoiding gun talk and rhyming about their adventures in Queens, N.Y. The jazz-infused tracks produced some of the most monumental rap albums like The Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders, and is responsible for the classic hip-hop joint “Can I Kick It?”
The 5 Footer’s death led to an outpouring of tributes from celebrities on social media:
Phife-HipHop & Rap word Warrior, simple as that.Breathed it & lined rhyme into Sport.A true fire Social Narrator my bro #RIBeats ATCQforever
1. Rosie Perez and Tupac Shakur at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles circa 1993.
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2. Here's a candid moment of Dr. Dre in his office listening to some music on a personal radio system with the CD player on the top back in 1992.
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3. Speaking of Dre, all that hard work paid off. Here, he posed for a picture with Diana Ross and Eminem at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards.
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4. Hard work and dedication in 1996 helped Jay start down the road to becoming the mogul he is today.
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5. Rappers and actors Big Boy and Andre 3000 from Outkast posed for photos after their performance at the Marcus Amphitheater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1995.
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6. Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, and Pras Michel - better known as The Fugees - posed for a flick while kicking it backstage at the Manhattan Center before a 1993 performance in New York City, New York.
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7. Years later, Lauryn Hill would go solo. Here she is posing for a shoot in New York back in 1998.
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8. M E T H O D Man! Mr. Meth had the grills back in 1993.
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9. Donald Trump and Diddy did business together back when the Don was a little more tolerant during Justin's Bar Grand Opening on September 30, 1997.
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10. Nasty Nas circa 1990 in an unspecified photo shoot.
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11. Beyonce Knowles got a lot of attention in the Destiny's Child days. This performance with Kelly Rowland in the background took place at the KMEL Jam at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California August 29th, 1998.
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12. Brandy Norwood and Ray J Norwood were all smiles at the 1994 Kids Choice Awards.
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13. Ray was a little bit more of a badass in 1995, as he went with his sister to the "Batman Forever" premiere in L.A.
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14. Bow Bow and Master P chatted it up at MTV's "Celebrity Slam" circa '99 and 2000.
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15. Will Smith showed off his moves at a NBC All Stars party around the early '90s.
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16. Tyra Banks and Snoop Dogg during 1998's MTV Rock n' Jock Baseball in Los Angeles.
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