Malik Abdul Basit of The Roots has passed Away. On Wednesday (July 29), the news was shared on The Roots official Twitter page. “We regretfully inform you of the passing of our beloved brother and long time Roots member Malik Abdul Baset,” the tweet read. “May he be remembered for his devotion to Islam and innovation as one of the most gifted MCs of all time. We ask that you please respect his family in our time of mourning.”
Malik passed at the age of 47-years-old. At the time of reporting, no cause of death has been mentioned, according to Rolling Stone. “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,” Black Thought wrote on Instagram.
“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 b—-. 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.”
A native of Philadelphia, Malik B. connected with the Square Roots drummer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and fellow MC Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter in the early ’90s. They became friends with Malik while they were attending Millersville University.
The hip-hop group released their album Organix in 1993, after changing their name to The Roots. That album was followed by their breakout major label debut, 1995’s Do You Want More?!!!??!. Malik B. and Black Thought split verses on almost every song.
Malik also appeared on Illadelph Halflife, which dropped in 1996 and 1999’s Things Fall Apart before the rapper exited the Roots. On 2002’s “Water,” which appeared on The Roots’ Phrenology, which was the first album without Malik B., Black Thought detailed how he and Basit began creating musically. He also talked about how Basit’s drug issues were what ultimately led Malik to leave The Roots.
Following Malik’s exit, he still would make guest appearances on the group’s albums, including the title track to 2006’s Game Theory and Rising Down’s “I Can’t Help It” and “Lost Desire” in 2008. Those were the last two times that Malik was featured with The Roots. After leaving The Roots, Malik B. returned to rap and dropped his 2005 mixtape Street Assault and his 2015 project Unpredictable, produced by Mr. Green.