I'll be the first to admit. This one hurt. I got the news around 5am Wednesday morning. Loss of words then. Aside from being a fan of his lyrics and sometimes taking his aliases into my own.. i.e. 'The Five Footer', I liked him as a person. No.. I've never met him, but I developed the undefinable connection an artist can give you through their music, interviews, persona etc.
He was one of the very few that did/do that for me.
A couple years back, it intensified. I saw the documentary 'Beats, Rhymes, & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest'. Phife's illness was addressed and expressed through visual- how his everyday life was affected, friendships affected, thoughts etc. A first hand look (for those who didn't know or recognize) of how illness can shift it all. His longtime bout with his severe diabetes was indeed a battle. Yet, here was a man determined to continue his life and passion while the odds were against him. Inspiring. A Specialist of this Hip-Hop craft. Malik Taylor... the five footer... the five foot assassin... Phife Dawg... the funky diabetic... you will be missed. R.I.P.