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Phife Dawg, a member of rap pioneers A Tribe Called Quest, has died at the age of 45.

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:

SOURCE: Billboard | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty

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