Malik B. of the Roots Dies at 47

Malik B. of the Roots Dies at 47
Malik Abdul Basit — an American rapper and singer best known as formative Roots member Malik B. — has died. News of the artist's passing was shared on Twitter today by former CBS News correspondent Don Champion and Philadelphia rap vet Reef the Lost Cauze. Malik was 47.

"Mourning my beloved cousin today. He was so talented and had a huge heart," Champion wrote on Twitter. "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."

"Heartbroken to hear of the passing of Malik B., one of the greatest MC's to ever come from this city," 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."

"We regretfully inform you of the passing of our beloved brother and long time Roots member Malik Abdul Basit," the group wrote in a statement. "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."

Born in Philadelphia in 1972, Malik B. joined Roots co-founders Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter and Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson ahead of the group's independent 1993 debut Organix.

He would lend his rhymes to the group's next four albums — 1994's Do You Want More?!!!??!, 1996's Illadelph Halflife, and 1999's revered Things Fall Apart and live collection The Roots Come Alive before leaving the group.

The Roots' 2002 album Phrenology includes a song titled "Water," in which Black Thought lyrically recalls Malik joining the group and becoming part of their success. Malik B. would return as a featured artist on 2006's Game Theory and 2008's Rising Down.

Outside of his work with the Roots, Malik B. released mixtape Street Assault in 2005, and followed that with his Psychological EP in 2006. More recently, he teamed with American producer Mr. Green for the collaborative album Unpredictable in 2015.