Malik B., the rapper and singer who was a founding member of The Roots, has passed away at the age of 47.
The musician, real name Malik Abdul Basit, featured on the first four Roots albums before he left the group to focus on solo material. Keeping a close relationship with his bandmates, Malik B. would later return to The Roots as a featured artist.
While no specific details of the rappers death have been released, his publicist confirmed the news of his passing.
“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 Basit,” the band said in a statement.
“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,” they added in a post on Instagram. “We ask that you please respect his family and extended family in our time of mourning such a great loss.”
Tributes have continued to pour in for Mike B. as joint Roots founding member, Black Thought, remembered his bandmate with a post on social media: “We made a name and carved a lane together where there was none. We resurrected 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,” he wrote. “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 bi—. 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.”
He added: “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.”
Don Champion, the musician’s cousin, was also one of the first to break the news on Twitter. “Mourning my beloved cousin today,” he said while sharing an old performance. “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.”