The Philadelphia rapper’s death was first confirmed by his cousin, former CBS News correspondent Don Champion, as well as founding members Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter.
Born Malik Abdul Baset, the rapper and singer first joined The Roots before the group’s 1993 debut studio album, “Organix.” He also appeared on the band’s next three albums including “Do You Want More?!!!??!,” “Illadelph Halflife” and “Things Fall Apart.”
“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,” Questlove and Black Thought said in a statement to The Post. “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 Roots also tweeted a similar statement.
“Mourning my beloved cousin today,” Champion wrote on Twitter. “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.”
“Heartbroken to hear of the passing of Malik B, one of the greatest MC’s to ever come from this city,” wrote fellow Philly-based rapper Reef The Lost Cauze, whose real name is Sharif T. Lacey. “He had his troubles for sure, but dude inspired a whole generation of us to touch the mic. Myself included. May he rest peacefully.”
The details of his death have not yet been revealed.
Malik B left the group in 1999 before The Roots released its fifth album, “Phrenology.” Roots member Black Thought dedicated a song to Malik B entitled “Water” on the album describing how they met.
The emcee was also a member of the underground rap group, Army Of The Pharaohs, and later appeared as a guest artist on several Roots’ songs, like “Game Theory.”
Baset also had a solo career after leaving The Roots, including an EP and two albums. His most recent was 2016’s “Unpredictable” with producer Mr. Green.