No cause or date of death have been provided, nor have any additional details.
The news that Philadelphia-born emcee — real name Malik Abdul Basit — passed away was confirmed by the group on Instagram on Wednesday.
“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,” said band members Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter in a statement. “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.”
The message concluded: “We ask that you please respect his family and extended family in our time of mourning such a great loss.”
Black Thought also paid tribute on his own Instagram account.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Trotter credited his late bandmate with having “sharpened” his “steel,” comparing his music to “poetic law,” and praising Basit for “making the English language [his] b–ch.”
“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.”
Rolling Stone reports that Basit teamed up with Trotter and Thompson in the early ’90s, eventually releasing the album “Organix.”
Before leaving the group, Basit appeared regularly on the albums “Do You Want More?!!!??!,” “Illadelph Halflife” and “Things Fall Apart.” He would occasionally make guest appearances on the groups following albums.
Basit also made music on his own, and released a handful of albums and EPs.