Malik B., a rapper who was a member of The Roots from their inception in 1987 until he left the Philadelphia hip-hop collective in 1999, has died, aged 47.
In a brief statement posted to social media, The Roots confirmed the death of the rapper – real name 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,” wrote the group. No cause of death has been given.
Basit joined The Roots founders Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter prior to the release of their debut album. He featured heavily on the band’s 1995 major label debut Do You Want More?!!!??!, also appearing on 1996’s Illadelph Halflife and Things Fall Apart in 1999 before his departure from the group.
Following his departure, Basit sporadically released music, releasing two albums – Street Assault in 2005 and Unpredictable with producer Mr. Green a decade later.
“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,” wrote Black Thought in a tribute to Basit on Instagram.
“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.”
“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.”