The iconic rap group began work on their first album in 18 years after reuniting on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon last November (15).

However before they could finish recording and mixing the record, Phife, real name Malik Izaak Taylor, died in March (16) from complications relating to diabetes. He was 45 years old when he passed away.

Remaining members Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi White had to complete the album, titled We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service, and found working on their late bandmate's contributions an emotional experience.

"It was very difficult because he was just here the other day," the band's leader Q-Tip tells The Guardian. "I had to stop many times when I'd hear his vocals because I couldn't continue."

Jarobi says the experience was so emotional the remaining trio often could not contain their feelings.

"It was very painful," he adds. "There were moments mixing the album when we burst into tears."

Q-Tip and Phife Dawg fell out in the wake of the band splitting up in 1998, and despite the band reuniting for select gigs and festival appearances, Q-Tip refused to record new material.

Jarobi says that despite Phife being gravely ill while the group was creating the new album, which features contributions from Andre 3000, Kendrick Lamar, Jack White, Elton John, and Kanye West, he was enjoying every minute.

"It's not like it was a dying man recording with his last breath," he explains. "It was quite the opposite. I haven't seen him that happy and invigorated in a long time. He was doing what he wanted to do and he'd patched up his relationship with his oldest friend (Q-Tip). We were telling jokes and being silly like we were as little kids. It was a beautiful thing to watch, actually."

We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service, which the group have announced will be their last album, was released last Friday (11November16).