Original member of The Roots Malik B has died at the age of 47.
His cousin Don Champion confirmed the news via Twitter on Wednesday (July 29), writing, “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.”
Born Malik Abdul Basit, the Philadelphia native joined The Roots in the late ’80s/early ’90s alongside co-founders Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter and appeared on the group’s first four albums — often considered their best: 1993’s Organix, 1995’s Do You Want More?!!!??!. 1996’s Illadelph Halflife and 1999’s Things Fall Apart.
He ultimately left the group only to return years later as a featured guest on albums such as 2008’s Rising Down. As a solo artist, he dropped an EP in 2006 called Psychological and two studio albums, 2005’s Street Assault and 2015’s Unpredictable with Mr. Green.
On The Roots 2002 album Phrenology, released not long after Malik departed, Black Thought dedicated a song to him titled “Water.” The track dove into their relationship and explained how Malik was integral to The Roots’ story.
“Yo, we done made too many meals,” Thought raps. “A couple of deals/We done share clothes and wills/Killed mics and reels/We done rock/Shows abroad, and slept on floors/Trying to figga what the fuck we gettin’ slept on for.”
Although details surrounding Malik’s death are extremely scarce, tributes have already started pouring in on social media.
“Heartbroken to hear of the passing of Malik B, one of the greatest MC’s to ever come from this city,” fellow Philly MC Reef the Lost Cauze wrote. “He had his troubles for sure, but dude inspired a whole generation of us to touch the mic. Myself included. May he rest peacefully.”
As of publication time, Questlove nor Black Thought have reacted publicly to the news. HipHopDX sends our condolences to Malik’s friends, family and fans.