Malik B, Founding Member of The Roots, Dead at 47

Malik B, founding member of The Roots, has passed away. He was 47 years old.

The Philadelphia-based jazz-influenced rap group, comprised of Black Thought and Questlove, confirmed Malik B’s passing on their Twitter page this afternoon (July 29). “We regretfully inform you of the passing of our beloved brother and long time Roots member Malik Abdul Baset,” they 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.”

Details surrounding Malik B’s passing are unclear and the cause of death hasn’t been revealed.

Black Thought released a separate statement via his Instagram page, honoring the life of the late Roots member.

“We made a name and carved a lane together where there was none,” he began. “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.”

Don Champion, Malik’s cousin, confirmed the news via social media as well. “Mourning my beloved cousin today,” he wrote. “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.”

The Roots originated in Philadelphia in 1987 with Questlove and Black Thought, who attended high school together. Malik B and bassist Leonard “Hub” Hubbard joined the duo just before they dropped their debut album in 1993. Together, they dropped four albums: Organix (1993), Do You Want More?!!!??! (1995), Illadelph Halflife (1996) and Things Fall Apart (1999).

In 1999, Malik B parted ways with the group to pursue a solo rap career. However, he was featured on The Roots’ 2006 effort, Game Theory, and Rising Down, which dropped two years later.

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