Malik B., Longtime Member of the Roots, Is Dead at 47

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Malik B., the elusive M.C. best known for his work with the Roots, died on Wednesday. He was 47.

His death was confirmed by his cousin Don Champion. Members of the Roots also posted public statements on their Instagram and Twitter accounts, though the statements did not say where he died or specify the cause.

Malik joined the hip-hop group then known as the Square Roots after he met the founders, Questlove (Ahmir Thompson) and Black Thought (Tariq Trotter), in 1991 at Millersville University in rural Millersville, Pa. By 1993, the Roots had dropped “Square” from their name and self-released their debut album, “Organix.” Touring relentlessly, they soon developed a cult following in Europe.

New members filtered in and out each year. Malik appeared on three more albums — “Do You Want More?!!!??!” (1995), “Illadelph Halflife” (1996) and “Things Fall Apart” (1999) — and then left the band.

Before his departure, the Roots were churning out critically acclaimed albums and inching further into the hip-hop mainstream. Collaborating with artists like D’Angelo, Common and Erykah Badu, the Roots made their name merging the seemingly disparate worlds of live jazz and gritty East Coast rap.

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