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Malik "Phife Dawg" Taylor, center, speaks on Wednesday. (Kris Price/SEIU)

An occasional look at the army of showbiz activists coming through D.C. Yesterday's emissary: Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest.

Event: Panel discussion on health-care reform.

What he wants: Full health coverage for everyone.

How he looked: Backwards ball cap, Adidas T-shirt, shorts. Shy. "Normally I find it hard being part of things like this," he began.

Why him: The alt-hip-hop star suffered kidney failure after years of diabetes, got a new one donated last year by his wife.

Backup: The mother of producer J Dilla, who died of complications from lupus in 2006 after amassing huge medical bills; the Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus; Service Employees International Union leaders.

Lesson: Music-industry success doesn't come with the best insurance. Phife fell back on his wife's coverage: "I was blessed."

Whom we skipped for him: Joel and Benji Madden of Good Charlotte, decrying "conflict mineral" mining in the Congo.

By The Reliable Source  |  July 9, 2009; 1:02 AM ET
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