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

A longtime member of the legendary Roots crew has died.

Philadelphia rapper Malik B has passed away at the age of 47, according to The Roots. The group shared the sad announcement on social media Wednesday. The cause of death is currently unknown.

“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 Baset,” the band said in a statement. “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.”

His cousin, former CBS News correspondent Don Champion, and Philly rapper Reef The Lost Cauze, a close friend and collaborator of Malik, also mourned the loss.

“Mourning my beloved cousin today. He was so talented and had a huge heart,” tweeted Champion, while Reef added, “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.”

Born Malik Abdul Basit in Philadelphia in 1972, Malik B joined The Roots ahead of the release of their 1993 debut Organix and appeared on albums including Do You Want More?!!!??!, Illadelph Halflife, and Things Fall Apart. According to Uproxx, he left prior to The Roots’ fifth album, Phrenology, but later guested on the band’s 2006 album Game Theory as well as 2008’s Rising Down.

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