The band announced the news in an Instagram post on Wednesday evening.
“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,” they wrote.
“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 cause of death has not been disclosed.
The rapper’s cousin, Don B, was one of the first to pay tribute, writing 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, Malik.”
The rapper Blueprint also paid tribute: “Rest in Peace to Malik B of The Roots. Step into The Realm’ from Things Fall Apart was always one of my favorite performances from him. One more classic verse from Malik B from “Distortion to Static.” “Now go get your dictionary and your dictionary...” RIP”.
Malik B joined The Roots in the Nineties alongside founding members Questlove and Black Thought.
While a member of the band, The Roots released four albums. He left the band in 1999 to pursue a solo career, releasing the album Street Assault in 2005.
He would go on to make guest appearances on future Roots albums such as Game Theory and Rising Down. In a 2015 interview, Malik stated that he was never fired from the Roots and did not quit the band.