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The Roots founding member Malik B dead at 47, pioneering hip hop band calls him ‘most gifted MCs of all time’

The Philadelphia rapper was part of the pioneering hip hop band since its debut in 1987 till 1999 and was part of four albums. Malik also featured on The Roots’ seventh album, ‘Game Theory’, in 2006
Malik B (left), Lawrence Arnell (center), Vinnie Paz (right) (Wikimedia Commons)
Malik B (left), Lawrence Arnell (center), Vinnie Paz (right) (Wikimedia Commons)

Malik Abdul Basit, better known to the world as Malik B, an original member of the American hip hop band, The Roots, has died at the age of 47. The news of his death was announced on Wednesday, July 29, by the musician’s cousin Don Champion. The cause of his death has not been revealed yet. 

“Mourning my beloved cousin today. He was so talented and had a huge heart,” said Champion. “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 too, on the band’s official Twitter account, spoke about his death. The statement said, “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.”

Tariq Luqmaan Trotter, better known as Black Thought, the lead MC of the Philadelphia-based hip hop group The Roots paid a tribute to Malik on his Instagram. Sharing a photo of them, he wrote, “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.”

“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,” he wrote further. “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 b***h. 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,” Black Thought concluded.

Philadelphia rapper Reef the Lost Cauze also tweeted, “Heartbroken to hear of the passing of Malik B, one of the greatest MC’s to ever come from this city. He had his troubles for sure, but dude inspired a whole generation of us to touch the mic. Myself included. May he rest peacefully.”

Malik, along with Black Thought, and Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson were part of The Roots in the late ‘80s. Malik was part of the band from its 1987 debut till 1999, during which he appeared on four albums. Malik also featured on The Roots’ seventh album, ‘Game Theory’, in 2006.

Malik released two studio albums and an EP following his departure from The Roots -- ‘Street Assault’ in 2005, ‘The Psychological EP’ in 2006, and ‘Unpredictable’ in 2015 where he teamed up with Mr. Green. The Roots later went on to become the house band for ‘Late Night With Jimmy Fallon’ in March 2009, and later, ‘The Tonight Show’ in 2014.