The music world suffered an incalculable loss today with the report that Philadelphia rapper Malik B, a founding member of The Roots, had passed away at the age of 47. The news was initially confirmed on Twitter by both Malik’s cousin, former CBS News correspondent Don Champion, and fellow Philadelphian Reef The Lost Cauze, a close friend and collaborator of The Roots MC who was well-known in the 2000s as a member of underground rap supergroup Army Of The Pharaohs.
Mourning my beloved cousin today. He was so talented and had a huge heart. I still remember when he and The Roots were starting out. He'd give me and my dad their cassette tapes to listen to. I miss you already, Mailk. #RIP ❤️ https://t.co/UMQeXJsWmf
— Don Champion (@DonChampionTV) July 29, 2020
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.
— Reef The Lost Cauze (@LostCauze) July 29, 2020
Born Malik Abdul Basit in Philadelphia in 1972, Malik B was added to The Roots ahead of the release of their 1993 debut Organix and subsequently appeared on three of the band’s succeeding albums — Do You Want More?!!!??!, Illadelph Halflife, and Things Fall Apart. He left the group, along with several other longtime members, ahead of The Roots’ fifth album, Phrenology. Black Thought dedicated the Phrenology track “Water” to Malik B, detailing their meeting and his addition to The Roots.
Malik had guest verses on Game Theory and Rising Down, the band’s seventh and eighth studio albums, in 2006 and 2008, respectively. Twitter was quickly flooded with messages expressing condolences to the rapper’s family and fond remembrances of his contributions to hip-hop’s rich tapestry. Collaborators like Reef and Mr. Green and peers like J-Live shared videos and links to his standout performances while saying goodbye to the rap pioneer.
rip to the great Malik B, this one hurts
— Mr. Green (@greenhiphop) July 29, 2020
RIP to Malik B of the legendary The Roots. Peace and prayers to all of your loved ones.💔 https://t.co/GpoQRhcCIg
— AFROPUNK (@afropunk) July 29, 2020
As of press time, The Roots’ fellow founders have yet to respond to the news but this post will be updated when they have.