The Roots’ Malik B. Has Died
The Roots’ Malik B. (Malik Abdul Baset, left), Questlove (Ahmir Thompson, standing) and Black Thought (Tariq Trotter) | Donovan Public Relations

One of the founding members of the Legendary Roots Crew, Malik B., has passed away. He was 47.

Malik Abdul Baset, who performed as Malik B., help form the original group—then known as Square Roots—in 1987 in Philadelphia. The band would become of the most respected hip hop acts of the 1990s due to their slick lyrical musings and use of original, live instrumentation. Baset performed on The Roots first four albums: Organix (1993), Do You Want More?!!!??! (1995), Iladelph Halflife (1996), and Things Fall Apart (1999). The later, produced the group’s biggest hit, “You Got Me” featuring Erykah Badu.

Black Thought (née Tariq Trotter) and Questlove (née Ahmir Thompson) shared this joint statement:

“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.”

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According to Variety, Baset left the group due to substance abuse. But whatever alleged demons he had in the past, the talented Philly native would go on to release solo albums Unpredictable (date unknown), Street Assault (2005) and the EP Psychological (2006). Baset teamed up back with The Roots on their albums Game Theory (2006) and Rising Down (2008).

Many fans have paid tribute to Baset on social media, including rapper Blueprint. He tweeted:

“Rest in Peace to Malik B of The Roots. ‘Step into The Realm’ from Things Fall Apart was always one of my favorite performances from him,” he said. 

“One more classic verse from Malik B from “Distortion to Static”: Now go get your dictionary and your dictionary… RIP,” Blueprint added. 

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Baset’s family.