The Roots founding member Malik B dies at 47

“We made a name and carved a lane together where there was none,” wrote Black Thought.

Malik B, a founding member of Philadelphia hip hop group The Roots, has passed away at 47 years old.

In a statement provided to Rolling Stone, his bandmates confirmed the sad news, though the cause of his death has not yet been revealed.

“It is with heavy hearts and tearful eyes that we regretfully inform you of the passing of our beloved brother and long-time Roots member Malik Abdul Basit,” The Roots said. “May he be remembered for his devotion to Islam, his loving brotherhood and his innovation as one of the most gifted MCs of all time. We ask that you please respect his family and extended family in our time of mourning such a great loss.”

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The Roots’ Black Thought and Questlove met in high school and came together as a duo in 1987. Malik later joined the group and they released their debut album, Organix, in 1993. He left the group in 1999, but made guest appearances on later albums such as 2006’s Game Theory and 2008’s Rising Down. He also developed a solo career, dropping the albums Street Assault and Unpredictable.

“We made a name and carved a lane together where there was none,” Black Thought wrote in his eulogy of his former groupmate on Instagram, along with an old photo of The Roots. “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.”

On Twitter, Questlove thanked fans “for all the kind words and love shown to Malik last night.” He also shared a “lighter tale” about Malik on Instagram, in which he explained how “even before Malik was in The Roots—he was my oil guru.”

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RIP, Malik B. Revisit The Roots’ iconic 1999 record Things Fall Apart—their last album with Malik B as a member—here:

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