The Roots co-founder Malik B. has died aged 47

"The world just lost a real one," Black Thought said in tribute

Malik B., a founding member of The Roots, has died aged 47.

The Philadelphia musician’s cousin Don Champion confirmed the news today (July 29) after reports began circulating on social media. A cause of death is not yet known.

“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.”

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The Roots have since issued a statement via their official Twitter page, writing: “We regretfully inform you of the passing of our beloved brother and long time Roots member Malik Abdul Baset.

“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 Roots’ rapper Black Thought (aka Tariq Trotter) shared a touching tribute on his Instagram page, saying that he and Malik “carved a lane together where there was none”.

“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 said. “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.

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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. 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. #MalikB #TheLegendaryRootsCrew

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“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 realise that you and the streets were one… and there was no way to separate a man from his true self.”

Black Thought added: “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.”

The Roots’ Questlove paid tribute to Malik B. in a lengthy Instagram post which you can read the first part of below.

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📸 by @tdoteric A lighter tale of Malik Abdul Basit As a true Bol from philly you know that one’s oil game HAD to be on point. I came in this game rockin oils since age 9. Most of yall joke about me smelling like Breakfast (thx Kravitz clan) but long before my vanilla combo mastery my true graduation from basic Frankincense & Myrrh morphed into new exotic philly jawns like “Mecca Musk” & “Somali Rose” & “Egyptian Musk” & yeah…..”Money On the Street” & “Hug My Neck Aphrodisiac” Malik introduced me to that world. Even before Malik was in the Roots —-he was my oil guru. IYKYK…there is no panic like the last drop of oil w no re-up in the future. I been bugging Malik for my “$OTS” re-up. Paged him 911 (ask your parents kids) he was hard to catch but I knew I had some leverage bait this time: these were my last days interning at #RuffhouseRecords. I was everyone’s plug for all free cd’s/lp’s & especially Kriss Kross posters for anyone’s younger sibling or cousin Tim Dog’s sophomore Do or Die just came out (his “I Get Wrecked” single w KRS made brief noise for a sec) & I had 6 songs from the not yet released Cypress Hill “Black Sunday” lp——that was just enough to garner a “word? BET!” confirmation from Malik to tell me that him & Mussa (remember the cat dozing off watching TV in our “Distorion” vid? Him) would scoop me in a half hour. Confused I thought it was gonna be an even exchange (having paid him upfront weeks ago at a show I thought he was gonna drop it off——ha ha ha yeah ok They arrive to my west philly house and then Malik breaks the news to me: we gotta take a trip to “Norf” to get the oils. I wasn’t planning on this. But oh well. It was 3pm. Malik told me the particular fragrance I dug was a mixture of 3 import oils from Saudi Arabia (his parents often taught school there) my dad was already on his cynic “fool me once….” bag with Malik from a previous sale: “that boy tried to hustle me with Blue Nile that wasn’t all the way Blue, I know Johnson’s baby oil rebranded when I smell it”)——Malik told me we’d have to run to grab 2 oils & then West Oak Lane for the other oil, & then to South Philly so he can mix em together. Uh (checks Swatch) ok.

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Questlove’s above story is continued in the comments section of the post, and he later addressed Malik B. by adding: “May Allah forgive you for your sins. May you find true peace. Find Rich for me. I’ll see you in the next world my brother.”

Malik B. appeared on The Roots’ first four studio albums: ‘Organix’ (1993), ‘Do You Want More?!!!??!’ (1995), ‘Illadelph Halflife’ (1996), and ‘Things Fall Apart’ (1999).

He departed the group in 1999 to pursue a solo career, going on to release his debut album ‘Street Assault’ in 2005 and the ‘Psychological EP’ the following year.

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