Rapper Malik B., one of the founding members of legendary hip-hop group the Roots, has died age 47, his cousin Don Champion confirmed.
"Mourning my beloved cousin today," wrote Champion on Twitter. "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, Malik." A cause of death was not specified.
In a statement that can be read above, the Roots wrote of Malik:
"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. 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."
Born Malik Abdul Basit, the Philly native remained with the group from their 1987 inception to the release of 1999's classic Things Fall Apart. He was considered to be an integral member on the Roots' first four albums, returning for guest appearances on later records despite his departure. His most recent contribution came on their 2008 album Rising Down. After his departure, he released a solo album titled Street Assault in 2005, followed by a collaborative record with Mr. Green in 2015, Unpredictable.
In a lengthy Instagram remembrance of "my beloved brother M-illitant," Black Thought wrote, "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."
See tributes to the late rapper below.