LISTEN: Peaceful Journey, Malik B.

The secret weapon of the Legendary Roots Crew has died at age 47

RIP Malik B. (Art: Ron Hart)

Before they became the best Late Night TV band since The Max Weinberg 7, The Roots from South Philly staked their claim in the hip-hop game by becoming a fully functional band in a genre built on samples and loops.

What made that classic OG incarnation of the group so indelibly was not only the airtight interplay between human beatbox masters Scratch and Rahzel, keyboardist Kamal, bassist Hub and drummer ?uestlove, but also the strength it’s super emcees, Black Thought and Malik B., who we lost yesterday at age 47.

No other rap duo in the last 25 years than the men born Tariq Trotter and Malik Abdul Basit throughout the course of those crucial first four Roots albums (1993’s Organix, 1994’s Do You Want More?!!?, 1996’s Illadelph Halflife and 1999’s breakthrough Things Fall Apart).

And there isn’t another track that personifies just how insanely good Basit was on the mic than the Illadelph deep cut “No Great Pretender”:

Check it out, one two
M-illi-tant
I be the, alias Malik B
Internationale rationale
All the people up 68th Ave.
And across Broad Street
Or Silk Lane in South Philly
And on, et cetera
Check it out, check it out
Here on this agenda, there is no pretenders
So when we begin to assassinate your cast members
Here on this agenda, there is no pretenders
So when we begin to assassinate your cast members
Dig it, cool calm collect in my perspective
Search the premises, I leave no clues for detectives
My verbal impact across your back slap
You talk about you see me, but your vision’s full of cataract
It don’t matter that, your glass house I shatter that
Bad luck I walk under now show me where the ladder at
Pull up the urinal organs up in your bladder cat
Approachin’ you with shriller rhetoric, as if you had a sac
Now crews down for it, your gas pedal floor it
With ammo and artillery and stash spots to keep and store it
I used the banner of a slant with a zort
Change your strategic plan, my man’s getting bored
Your vocal chord is fraudulent, and not the true porcelain
I bring the fire, earth, and the source of wind
The force of sin will endorse the pen
We all search for sanity, but I think that it was lost again
Now which stick of artists, can be the smartest
My beam of sunlight shines the brightest in the forest
Regardless, artists dislike because I’m ?
Control the temper, makin’ MC’s whimper
I tilt the Earth from off the axis in the center
Next I’m in the womb like a placenta
M-Illi-Tant the city ninja, uplift
Cause I’m the soul avenger, remember I’m no great pretender
Here on this agenda, there is no pretenders
So when we begin to assassinate your cast members
Here on this agenda, there is no pretenders
So when we begin to assassinate your cast members
Here on this agenda, there is no pretenders
So when we begin to assassinate your cast members
Here on this agenda, there is no pretenders
So when we begin to assassinate your cast members
Strategis, I bet y’all niggaz can’t believe this
I read you like a whole avenue that’s filled with meters
Parked, fuck your back talk, I watch how niggaz cat-walk
Over my pit of venom and send em to the asphalt
For inquisitives, who want to try to test me
What protects me, will make you shake like epilepsy
Plague your neighborhood with lyrical le-prosy
Stimulate more than Ecstasy y’all niggaz check my recipe
Dig it, I must observe it, analyze when I’m chillin’
Peep out who’s the villain then make your whole pavilion
Of a Sicilian, excuse the greed don’t want a mill’
I want a zillion – stacks of Franklins to the ceiling
I counts stacks imported, fuck the yacht and the mansion
I want Pluto and Jupiter, political, universal expansion
Buy out Tommy and Halle Hanson
Kidnap America, ? you hold it for ransom
Pass it down to my grandson, I got no time to be romancin’
Only time’s for mental food and advancement
This game of Life is strictly chancin’, get to know
The nature before I get know the nigga while I’m glancing
Enhancing, is my mental – I play in the midst
A squad a team most crews is not in the halfs of rentals
My utensils, display a whole variety
Even when in the cut niggaz can’t cut they anxiety
Peep, I fill your brain with suspicion, pay attention
Like you paid tuition, and stop all your bull-ishin
The rap chemist in the lab to the finish
The mic is my apprentice, cause I can’t stand
Courts or tennis, my pigmentation is the menace
That’s why the system’s always tryin to pursue with a blemish
Pale asses, think a nigga in this
My flow’s tremendous, for the meal you can’t replenish
The question you ask me, situation get worse
Fam I won’t befriend ya, cause I’m no great pretender

 

Basit rarely performed live with The Roots. Still, his quiet yet mighty presence on not only those first four albums but 2006’s Game Theory and 2009’s Rising Down as well proved him to be the perfect John Coltrane to Black Thought’s Miles Davis. No matter who was in the cipher, be it Bahamadia or Talib Kweli or Beanie Sigel or longtime Roots associate Dice Raw, Malik B. kept everyone on their toes with his incomparable lyricism and effortless delivery.

Hip-hop lost a real one yesterday. Peace and love to the entire Roots family and its extended multiverse. 

 

Ron Hart

Ron Hart is the Editor-in-Chief of Rock and Roll Globe. Reach him on Twitter @MisterTribune.

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