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

Musician performed for years alongside Questlove and Black Thought in the iconic hip hop band

Malik B., a founding member of the band The Roots, has died. He was 47.

The musician, whose full name was Malik Abdul Basit, performed for years alongside Questlove and Black Thought in the iconic hip hop band. His cause of death has not been disclosed.

A statement on The Roots’ official Twitter page confirmed his death.

“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,” the statement reads.

The musician was a part of the band’s first four albums, including Organix (1993), Do You Want More?!!!??! (1995), Illadelph Halflife (1996) and Things Fall Apart (1999), alongside current bandmembers Questlove and Black Thought. Basit left the group in 2002 but went on to appear in later Roots albums and also release solo music of his own.

Black Thought shared a message of tribute on his Instagram Wednesday.

“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,” he wrote. “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.”