Rapper Malik B, a founding member of the Roots, has died at 47.
His cousin Don Champion confirmed the news Wednesday on Twitter. "Mourning my beloved cousin today," Champion wrote. "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."
The Roots also paid tribute to Malik B on Twitter, referring to him as a "beloved brother" and adding, "May he be remembered for his devotion to Islam and innovation as one of the most gifted MCs of all time."
The artist born Malik Abdul Basit was considered a Philly legend for his hip-hop origins in the '90s as part of the Roots — originally known as Square Roots — alongside Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter. Although he was with the crew for their first four albums — Organix, Do You Want More?!!!??!, Illadelph Halflife, and Things Fall Apart — he departed in 1999 to pursue a solo career. But he wouldn't stay away forever, returning to the group as a featured artist on the albums Game Theory (2006) and Rising Down (2008).
Although the latest incarnation of the Roots performs as the house band on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Basit was never part of that collective.
Rapper Blueprint remembered Basit on social media with posts about his favorite songs.
"Rest in Peace to Malik B of The Roots," he wrote. "'Step into The Realm' from Things Fall Apart was always one of my favorite performances from him." He added, "One more classic verse from Malik B from "Distortion to Static." "Now go get your dictionary and your dictionary..." RIP"