Malik B., the rapper who was a longtime member of the Roots from their formative years, has died. The group confirmed the rapper's death to Rolling Stone, though no cause of death or other details were provided.
"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 Roots' Questlove and Black Thought 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. We ask that you please respect his family and extended family in our time of mourning such a great loss."
Black Thought added on Instagram, "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. 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."
Born Malik Basit in the Roots' native Philadelphia, the MC linked up in the early Nineties with the Square Roots drummer Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and fellow MC Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter, who became friends with Basit while the two were students at Millersville University.