Sad news out of the hip hop community. Malik Isaac Taylor, known professionally as Phipe Dawg, and founding member of the pioneering hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest, passed away last night. He was 45. He had battled ill health in recent years and underwent a kidney transplant in 2008, following renal failure due to complications from diabetes. He later became a diabetes advocate and shared his story in a 2012 documentary, “Beats, Rhymes And Life”. A Tribe Called Quest was formed in the late 1980’s by Phife, Jonathan Davis, known as Q-Tip and DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi White, who later left the group at the height of it’s success. The group would later make it’s mark as one of the most progressive hip hop acts of it’s time. Commercial success never eluded them. A Tribe Called Quest’s 1996 release “Beats, Rhymes And Life” reached the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Top 200 and it’s follow up, “The Love Movement”, which was released in 1998, peaked at No. 3. An earlier album, “Midnight Marauders”, reached No. 8 on the U. S charts in 1993. The group was rewarded in 2005 with a Special Achievement Award at the Billboard R&B/Hip Hop Awards in Atlanta. Phife, who also went by the nicknames “Five Foot Assassin” and “The Five Footer” due to his diminutive size, ( he stood at 5 ft. 3 in.), released a solo album, “Ventilation: Da LP” in 2000. A Tribe Called Quest reunited sporadically over the past decade, including a performance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”. That appearance coincided with the 25th anniversary release of the group’s debut album, which features remixes by Pharrell, Cee Lo Green and J. Cole. The Roots drummer Questlove has become a man in demand. Not only is he publishing a culinary page turner “Somethingtofoodabout”, he’ll also executive produce and score the forthcoming indie thriller “Vincent N Roxy”, his representatives confirmed to Billboard magazine. The action crime drama centers on the bad romance between a punk rocker and a small town loner who fall in love only to be followed by violence after they go on the run, according to Rolling Stone magazine. Quest’s previous scoring credits include the 2015 Chris Rock presentation “Top Five” and episodes of the Comedy Central hit “Inside Amy Schumer”. The Gary Michael Schultz directed “Vincent N Roxy” will appear at the Tribeca Film Festival next month. Rapper Kanye West’s albums aren’t selling like they used to, but sales of his merchandise are going through the roof. Opening his “The Life Of Pablo” pop-up shop over the weekend, West took to Twitter to announce that over a two-day period his clothing sold over $1 million, all from one location. If that’s true, it’s incredible news. Lines were crazy at the event, which stretched for blocks on Friday, March 18, so it isn’t impossible. It’s also been rumored that his pop could move outside New York City. Los Angeles and Chicago have been mentioned as possibilities.