The Tribe Called Quest star, real name Malik Taylor, passed away on 22 March (16) aged 45 from complications related to diabetes. At the time of his death, Phife was working on the EP Give Thanks and was due to release lead single Nutshell in February (16).

His family have chosen to release the music and premiered the single on Apple's Beats 1 show on Tuesday (05Apr16) while the video aired for the first time at a memorial service held for the rapper at New York's Apollo Theater that evening.

"Phife loved his fans, and was so excited for them to hear his new music," his widow Deisha Taylor said in a statement. "I feel like he would have wanted it this way."

At the start and end of the video, which stars Phife, a range of hip-hop stars, including his former bandmate Jarobi White and Redman, describe what the rapper meant to them.

Fifty per cent of the sales from the single will be donated to the American Diabetes Association and the National Kidney Foundation.

"Malik believed that his voice could spearhead the movement of awareness and formally educate young people about diabetes and kidney disease, so we think this is the perfect way to honor him and contribute," the rapper's family said in a statement.

The four-hour memorial service was attended by Kanye West, Busta Rhymes and Andre 3000, while musicians including D'Angelo, The Roots, Kelly Price and Grandmaster Flash performed at the event.

Kanye delivered a speech at the service in which he recalled his longtime love of A Tribe Called Quest, and how their album The Low End Theory was the first he ever bought.

"I was sitting here thinking about how much these people inspire me and how powerful the influence of the music was," he said. "How it meant everything. It is everything. Music was stolen from us and corporatised and anybody that spoke up was demonised. Anything I ever did wrong, blame Tip (Q-Tip) and Phife 'cause y'all raised me."