Malik B., Founding Member Of The Roots, Dead At 47

Malik B., one of the founding members of The Roots, has died at the age of 47.

The band announced Malik's passing on Wednesday (July 29), writing on Instagram: "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 Basit. 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."

The musician, born Malik Abdul Baset, helped start The Roots with Questlove and Black Thought back in the late '80s. He appeared on four of the group's albums — 1993's Organix, 1995's Do You Want More?!!!??!, 1996's Illadelph Halflife and 1999's Things Fall Apart — before leaving The Roots in 2002.

Malik did, however, make guest appearances on later albums. He also came out with a solo album in 2005, followed by an EP the next year.

Black Thought shared a touching tribute to Malik on Instagram, recalling their early years and time as a group. "We made a name and carved a lane together where there was none. We ressurected a city from the ashes, put it on our backs and called it Illadelph," he wrote. "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. 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*tch."

"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," Black Thought continued. "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."

Photo: Getty Images