Malik B., one of the founding members of the hip-hop band The Roots, has passed away at age 47.
Wednesday on Twitter, the MC’s cousin Don Champion confirmed the news after reports began circulating on social media.
“Mourning my beloved cousin today. He was so talented and had a huge heart. I still remember when he and The Roots were starting out,” Champion wrote. “He’d give me and my dad their cassette tapes to listen to. I miss you already, Mailk. #RIP”
Mourning my beloved cousin today. 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 ❤️ https://t.co/UMQeXJsWmf— Don Champion (@DonChampionTV) July 29, 2020
Later that day, The Roots’ official Twitter account paid respects to the musician, born Malik Abdul Basit.
We regretfully inform you of the passing of our beloved brother and long time Roots member Malik Abdul Basit. 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 pic.twitter.com/NVHtb2CFWP— The Roots (@theroots) July 29, 2020
The cause of death was not released.
In a message posted to his Instagram account, fellow founding member Black Thought shared an image of Malik, and admitted in the caption, “I always felt as if I possessed only a mere fraction of your true gift and potential.”
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We made a name and carved a lane together where there was none. We ressurected a city from the ashes, put it on our backs and called it Illadelph. 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. 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
Malik — along with Black Thought and drummer/joint frontman Questlove — formed the first iteration of The Roots and performed in Philadelphia and New York City in the late 1980s.
Malik appeared on the group’s first four albums: 1993’s “Organix,” 1995’s “Do You Want More?!!!??!,” 1996’s “Illadelph Halflife,” and 1999’s “Things Fall Apart.”
Per NME, Malik departed the group in 1999 to pursue a solo career.
Years later, Black Thought alluded to Malik’s departure on the song “Water,” off of the band’s 2002 album “Phrenology.”
Malik released his debut album “Street Assault” in 2005 and his “Psychological EP” the following year.
In a 2015 interview with Arena, Malik says he was never fired by The Roots, nor did he ever quit.
He will be missed.