The Roots announced the tragic death of its founding member, Malik B., in an emotional Twitter statement. Learn more about this iconic MC.
At just 47 years old, legendary rapper Malik B. (full name Malik Abdul Basit) has sadly passed away. His former hip-hop group, The Roots, revealed the death of its founding member on July 29. “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,” read a statement on The Roots’ Twitter account. The post didn’t go into detail about Malik’s death.
Malik’s cousin, Don Champion, was the first to speak on the tragic news. “Mourning my beloved cousin today. He was so talented and had a huge heart. 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. #RIP,” Don wrote in his own Twitter statement, which was accompanied by a throwback clip of Malik performing with The Roots. Now, learn more about Malik’s time with his iconic hip-hop group and his own musical ventures.
1. Malik joined The Roots in its earliest days. Before The Roots went on to score three Grammy awards and become the official house band on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the group started out as a small hip-hop group between Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1987. Malik came on-board (in addition to bass player Leonard “Hub” Hubbard) before The Roots released its debut studio album, Organix, in 1993.
2. Malik left The Roots after four albums. Although Malik took his leave from the group in 1999, he still lent his voice to several tracks on The Roots’ 2006 album Game Theory and its 2008 album Rising Down.
3. Following his exit from The Roots, Malik ventured into new music. Malik released his own mixtape in 2005, Street Assault, an EP called Psychological in 2006 and then a collaborative album with Mr. Green, Unpredictable, in 2015. “Rip to the great Malik B, this one hurts,” Mr. Green tweeted in reaction to his former collab partner’s death.
4. Black Thought remembered his former groupmate in a touching tribute. “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,” Black Thought began in his Instagram tribute. He added, “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,” Black Thought continued. “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.”
5. Malik later joined the rap collective, Beard Gang. Like The Roots, Beard Gang originated in Philadelphia.