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July 29, 2020

Malik B., founding member of The Roots, dies at 47

Black Thought shares statement: 'The world just lost a real one'

Obituaries Musicians
Malik B The Roots Дмитрий Петров/YouTube

Malik B., pictured above, was a founding member of Philadelphia hip-hop group The Roots. He died at the age of 47, prompting an outpouring of tributes and condolences on social media.

Philadelphia native Malik Abdul Basit, a founding member of homegrown hip-hop group The Roots, has died at the age of 47, according to reports. 

The news was first shared on Twitter by the former emcee's cousin, Don Champion. 

The Roots later confirmed the news with a statement.

Performing under the name Malik B., Basit appeared on The Roots' first four records in the late 1980s and through the 1990s. He left the group after their 1999 breakthrough "Things Fall Apart," but is featured on several tracks on subsequent albums. 

Malik B. also released a solo EP,  "Psychological," collaborated on an album with New York producer Mr. Green and was part of the Philadelphia rap collective Beard Gang. 

The circumstances surrounding Malik B.'s death were not immediately known, but the Philadelphia hip-hop community and others shared tributes on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon. 

Black Thought, lead emcee for The Roots, shared a powerful statement on Instagram remembering Malik B. 

View this post on Instagram

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

A post shared by Black Thought (@blackthought) on

On the 2002 album "Phrenology," Black Thought wrote the song "Water" to honor Malik B.'s founding contributions to The Roots and the lasting personal influence he left.