Malik B. Dies: The Roots Founding Member Was 47

Malik B of The Roots (Credit: Twitter)

Malik Abdul Basit, a rapper and singer best known for his work with The Roots, has died, the group said Wednesday on its verified Twitter account. The performer, who went by the stage name “Malik B.” was 47.

“We regretfully inform you of the passing of our beloved brother and long time Roots member Malik Abdul Basit,” The Roots said in a statement. “May he be remembered for his devotion to Islam and innovation as one of the most gifted MCs of all time. We ask that you please respect his family in our time of mourning.”

No cause of death was given.

Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter founded The Roots while attending the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. Malik B. and bass player Leonard “Hub” Hubbard joined the band before the release of their first album in 1993.

Malik B. was in the group from 1987-1999. He went on to produce solo material, and periodically appeared on Roots albums.

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Black Thought paid tribute to his former bandmate Wednesday on Instagram.

“We made a name and carved a lane together where there was none. We resurrected a city from the ashes, put it on our backs and called it Illadelph,” he began his post. “In friendly competition with you from day one, I always felt as if I possessed only a mere fraction of your true gift and potential.”

He concluded by writing, “My beloved brother M-illitant. I can only hope to have made you as proud as you made me. The world just lost a real one. May Allah pardon you, forgive your sins and grant you the highest level of paradise.”