Malik Abdul Basit (aka Malik B.), a rapper, singer and longtime member of The Roots, died Wednesday. He was 47. The Roots announced Basit’s death in a statement on the group’s verified Twitter account but did not provide a cause of death.
“We regretfully inform you of the passing of our beloved brother and long time Roots member Malik Abdul Basit,” the statement read. “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.”
Basit appeared on the first four albums released by The Roots — Organix (1993), Do You Want More?!!!??! (1995), Illadelph Halflife (1996) and gold disc Things Fall Apart (1999). He performed for years alongside current band members and co-founders Questlove and Black Thought before departing the group to pursue a solo career. He later returned as a feature artist on The Roots’ seventh studio album, 2006’s Game Theory, performing on three tracks, including the title track, “In the Music” and “Here I Come.” He also was featured on two of the tracks on The Roots’ 2008 album Rising Down, “I Can’t Help It” and “Lost Desire”.
His most recent album, Unpredictable, was a collaboration with New York-based producer Mr. Green in 201
Black Thought penned a tribute to Basit 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,” he wrote. “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.”