The Roots Founding Member Malik B Is Dead At 47

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Malik B, known for his work as a founding member of The Roots and his subsequent career as a solo artist, has died. The Philadelphia native was 47 years old at the time of his death. At the time of writing, no details about the cause or circumstances of his death have been revealed.

Born Malik Abdul Baset, Malik B's death at 47 was confirmed by fellow The Roots founding members Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter. Questlove and Black Thought released a statement (via the New York Post) regarding Malik B's 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 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.

Malik B was a founding member of The Roots who contributed to the first four of the iconic group's albums before leaving in 1999, although he did contribute to some later Roots albums as a featured artist. Notably, he appeared on three tracks from The Roots' seventh album, which released in 2006.

In his solo career, Malik B released two albums and an EP, including "Unpredictable" in 2016. Don Champion, Malik B's cousin and former CBS News correspondent, took to social media with a tribute and a touching memory about the rapper's early days with The Roots:

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In a followup tweet, Don Champion expressed his gratitude for all the people reaching out to honor Malik B and seeing "how many people he's touched," and Champion shared that he has been sharing some of the messages on social media with his family.

Don Champion was certainly not the only one who shared their thoughts and tributes to Malik B on social media. Mr. Green, who produced the rapper's final album, posted this:

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Reef the Lost Cauze, a rapper based out of Malik B's native Philadelphia, explained what the founding Roots member meant to Philadelphia and a generation of rappers with a post of his own:

Heartbroken to hear of the passing of Malik B, one of the greatest MC's to ever come from this city. He had his troubles for sure, but dude inspired a whole generation of us to touch the mic. Myself included. May he rest peacefully.

Rapper Biz Markie honored Malik B by specifically noting what the rapper brought to the rap scene back in the early days of the roots:

A major reason why rap was so good in the 90s is that artists realized that the rap group was the platonic form. Malik B was a perfect example of that. Always reliable for 16 bars of heat, blessed w/ a great voice and cadence. A heroic role player on several classics.

Music critic Craig Jenkins quoted a line from "Adrenaline," which is a song from The Roots' fourth album that released in 1999 as Malik B's last with the group:

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The Roots stand as an iconic group and hip hop band going all the way back to 1987, and Malik B was instrumental in the early days and was clearly not forgotten or his legacy left behind after he departed. The Roots went on to join Jimmy Fallon in his late night efforts starting in 2009, first on Late Night and then The Tonight Show, which likely never would have been possible if not for the success of the group with Malik B early on.

Our thoughts here at CinemaBlend are with the family, friends, and loved ones of Malik B in this difficult time.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.