Hip-hop stars The Roots have paid tribute to former bandmate Malik B. following his death at the age of 47.

The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-born rapper was a co-founder of the group, alongside drummer Questlove and MC Black Thought, and appeared on The Roots' first four albums, including their breakthrough project, 1999's Things Fall Apart.

He departed the band shortly after the album's release.

A cause of death has yet to be revealed, but Questlove and Black Thought have paid tribute in a statement issued to Rolling Stone.

"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," they shared.

"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 pair lamented.

Black Thought also took to Instagram to add some more personal memories, revealing he had been in 'friendly competition' with Malik B. 'from day one'.

"I always felt as if I possessed only a mere fraction of your true gift and potential," he wrote.

Celebrating the deceased rapper's talent, Black Thought added: "Your steel sharpened my steel as I watched you create cadences from the ether and set them free into the universe to become poetic law, making the English language your b**ch."