Rapper Malik B. (full name Malik Abdul Basit), who was a founding member of The Roots, has died. He was 47.
The Philadelphia native’s cousin Don Champion confirmed his passing on Wednesday, July 29.
“Mourning my beloved cousin today,” he wrote via Twitter. “He was so talented and had a huge heart. I still remember when he and The Roots were starting out. He’d give me and my dad their cassette tapes to listen to. I miss you already, Mailk. #RIP.”
No cause of death has been reported.
Malik B. was best known for being an original member of hip-hop group The Roots, which was started alongside Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson in the late ‘80s. Malik was part of the band from its 1987 debut to 1999.
He appeared on four albums before his departure and was featured on The Roots seventh album, Game Theory, in August 2006.
Following the news of his passing, the group — which is currently made up of Black Thought, 48, Questlove, 49, Kamal Gray, Captain Kirk Douglas, James Poyser, Mark Kelley and Ian Hendrickson-Smith — mourned the loss of its former member via social media.
“We regretfully inform you of the passing of our beloved brother and long time Roots member Malik Abdul Baset,” the band said in a statement on Wednesday via Twitter. “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.”
Black Thought reflected on his friendship with the musician in an Instagram tribute on Wednesday.
“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 wrote. “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. Your steel sharpened my steel as I watched you create cadences from the ether and set them free into the universe to become poetic law, making the English language your bitch. I always wanted to change you, to somehow sophisticate your outlook and make you see that there were far more options than the streets, only to realize that you and the streets were one… and there was no way to separate a man from his true self.”
He continued: “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. #MalikB #TheLegendaryRootsCrew.”
Mr. Green (real name Aaron Green) also paid tribute to his former collaborator, tweeting, “rip to the great Malik B, this one hurts.”
The rapper released two studio albums and an EP after walking away from the Philadelphia-born group. He dropped Street Assault in 2005 and followed it up with the Psychological EP the following year before teaming up with Mr. Green for 2015’s Unpredictable.