How Phife Dawg’s Death Made Me Come To Grips With My Own Mortality

Phife is dead at 45.

Phife Dawg is dead at the age tender age of 45. He died yesterday from complications of diabetes. Phife a.k.a “The Five Foot Freak” made up one-third of the legendary hip hop trio “A Tribe Called Quest” or ATCQ for short. I woke up this morning, looked at my phone and saw that one of my favorite artists had passed away. A wave of sadness rolled over me. I met Malik Taylor in 1994 at Clutch Cargo in Pontiac, Michigan when ATCQ performed with Busta Rhymes. After the show, we chilled with them. My homegirl was a good friend of his and he made sure that we were taken care of. He was a funny cat. Witty as fuck. The more outspoken one of the trio. The homie from Linden Boulevard in Queens. A good dude ,indeed, which makes his death that much harder to deal with.

Q-Tip, Phife and Ali Shaheed. The founding members of A Tribe Called Quest.
Q-Tip, Phife and Ali Shaheed. The founding members of A Tribe Called Quest.

Phife isn’t the first rapper to die. Thankfully, he wasn’t murdered which seems to come with the “rapper” title these days. That sounded macabre but it’s true. His death has reiterated how imperative it is that I take care of myself. Forty-one is fairly young in the grand scheme of life but with so many of us dying from ailments and conditions which can be prevented- I need to be proactive with regard to my health. I need to grow old for my baby girl. I need to be here for my husband and sister. I’m looking at my own mortality. Like seriously. I grew up listening to these brothers and at the time, they seemed so much older than me.  Three years separate us. THREE YEARS. I remember my parents being 45 years old and they are thirteen years apart. I can’t imagine the sorrow and pain that they would feel if my sister or me left this Earth before them. Nobody’s time here is promised but we shouldn’t be trying to check out early by any means. This is weighing heavy on my heart. He had a wife, children, other family and friends. His life’s journey with his wife ended yesterday and it brings tears to my eyes as I could not fathom life without my husband.

Yeah, I have a lot on my mind right now. I need to take better care of this vessel. I kissed my daughter before she went to bed. I told my boo that I loved him before we hung up. I played “Midnight Marauders” and “Beats, Rhymes and Life”albums and I thought of Phife and I vowed to do better.

I know that we don’t control life and death but I can assure you that I won’t do anything to speed up the process. Live, love and be happy.

Rest well, Malik. You will truly be missed.


K. Araújo, a native Detroiter, is a cross between Claire Huxtable, Rosie Pérez and Millie Jackson. Widow, bruja, Oni Yemaya, palera,  professional dragger of filth and Mami to the dopest Ethiopian EVER, she is the Editor in Chief of “Negra With Tumbao”, Staff Writer for “The Urban Twist” and a freelance contributor for major publications like The Root, VSB, Huffington Post, My Brown Baby and The Glow Up.

​Keka has been known to shake what her mama gave her, is the hell and high water, an expert salsera and cussologist with a penchant for the finer things in life and is and forever shall be- unapologetically black.