Malik Abdul Baset, the Philadelphia rapper best known for his work with The Roots, has died, age 47. It was confirmed by The Roots’ Questlove and Black Thought in a statement on Wednesday, cause of death was not 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 Baset,” the statement said. “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.”
The group met at Millersville University, Pennsylvania, Malik B met the Roots co-founders Ahmir Thompson and Tariq Trotter — before they became Questlove and Black Thought, respectively, in the ’90s. Their 1993, self-released debut album, Organix set them off at a standard that propelled recognition for their talent adding to a growing fanbase for their live performances.
Do You Want More?!!!??! their second album in 1995 followed receiving major label support. Their third release which was released the following year, Illadelph Halflife, took the group to a more mainstream audience — marking The Roots place in hip-hop and the culture at large.
Things Fall Apart was Malik B.’s last album as a member of The Roots.
Black Thought addressed Malik B.’s split from the group in the song “Water (The First Movement),” from Phrenology, referencing drug use and a dislike for touring:
It was a couple things, lil’ syrup, lil’ pills
Instead of riding out on the road you’d rather chill
I know the way a pleasure feel, I’m not judging
But still I’m on a mission, yo, I’m not buggin’
Despite the split released in 2006, Malik B. was a guest on three songs from Game Theory, The Roots’ seventh album.