Tariq Trotter (born October 3, 1971), better known as Black Thought, is an American rapper and the lead MC of the Philadelphia-based hip hop group the Roots, which he co-founded with drummer Questlove (Ahmir Thompson). Regarded as "one of the most skilled, incisive, and prolific rappers of his time" by Andy Kellman of AllMusic, he is widely lauded for his live performance skills, continuous multisyllabic rhyme schemes, complex lyricism, double entendres, and politically aware lyrics. With the Roots, he is a singer and rapper on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, frequently playing games with Fallon and his guests.
Black Thought performing in 2011
Tarik Luqmaan Trotter
October 3, 1971
|Origin||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
Black Thought was born Tarik Luqmaan Trotter, to Thomas and Cassandra Trotter, both members of the Nation of Islam. His father was murdered when Trotter was one, and his mother murdered when he was in high school. He spent time tagging "DT" or "Double T" with graffiti around Philadelphia. He sold crack cocaine briefly, and was sent to live with family in Detroit for a few months in high school. Trotter attended the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts and Millersville University studying Journalism. In 1987, Trotter became friends with drummer Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and formed a drummer/MC duo performing on the streets of Philadelphia and at talent shows. Trotter would subsequently spend some time as one of two MCs in the group the Square Roots: the other one was Malik B., whom Tariq met in college. In high school, Black Thought became interested in the lessons of the Nation of Gods and Earths.[failed verification]
The Square Roots renamed themselves the Roots and released their debut album Organix in 1993. The Roots signed to DGC and followed up with Do You Want More?!!!??! in 1995. Recorded without any sampling, the album was more popular among alternative music fans than those of hip hop. Around the release of the album, the Roots performed at the Lollapalooza alternative music festival and Montreux Jazz Festival. Illadelph Halflife, the band's 1996 album, became its first album to chart within the top 40 spots on the Billboard 200 because of the successful single "What They Do". Things Fall Apart followed in 1999, the year the band played at the Woodstock 99 concert.
In 2000, the Roots won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for "You Got Me", with guest performances by Erykah Badu and Eve. The Roots' album Things Fall Apart was nominated for the Best Rap Album award. For Jay-Z's acoustic concert for the television program MTV Unplugged, the Roots provided instrumentals. Succeeding albums were Phrenology (2002), The Tipping Point (2004), Game Theory (2006), Rising Down (2008), How I Got Over (2010), Undun (2011), and …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin (2014).
Black Thought's numerous musical guest performances include "Pimpas Paradise", by Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley; "Hard Hitters", by Dilated Peoples; "Stolen Moments Part 2", by Common; "X-Ecutioner Style", by Linkin Park; "My Favorite Mutiny", by the Coup; "Right Now", by Fort Minor; and "Rafiki", by Zap Mama.
Black Thought recorded a solo album, to be titled Masterpiece Theatre and released in 2001, but the project was scrapped after he learned that the album would not count toward the Roots' contractual commitments. Most of the songs from the project appeared on the Roots' Phrenology album.
In a June 2008 interview with Brian Kayser of the website HipHopGame, Black Thought spoke of another solo project that was scheduled for release on the Razor and Tie music corporation. He stated that there would be the possibility of Questlove working on production. As of September 2014, neither Black Thought nor the solo album are listed on the Razor & Tie website.
In February 2011, Black Thought, along with 10.Deep and the "Money Making Jam Boys" collective—the latter of which includes Dice Raw, S.T.S., Truck North and P.O.R.N.—released the mixtape The Prestige.
Together with U.K. artist Lotek, Black Thought appeared on the song "Living in Bunkers", by Australian hip hop group Hilltop Hoods, which was released on the Drinking From the Sun album in March 2012. Also in March 2012, Black Thought performed with Nneka and Clef nite at BET 106 and Park. They performed the song "God Knows Why", from the former's album Soul Is Heavy, which they collaborated on.
In early 2013, Black Thought confirmed his continuing work, with Jim James and Tunde Adebimpe, on a solo album entitled Talented Mr. Trotter. At this time, he began work on a memoir with journalist and music critic Jeff Chang, as well as filmmaker Maori Karmael.
As of April 2015, the rapper has yet to release a solo album, but when asked about the long-awaited project, by a fan on Twitter, he said he's "working on it". He did not offer further details.
In February 2016, Black Thought joined forces with Fashawn, Murs, and Del the Funky Homosapien to record a new track called "Rise Up" for the video game Street Fighter V. A music video for the song was released by Capcom, and includes appearances by Black Thought and his fellow collaborators.
In December 2017, Black Thought appeared on HOT 97 with Funkmaster Flex where he performed a 10-minute freestyle over "The Learning (Burn)" instrumental by Mobb Deep. This freestyle went widely viral, trending over Twitter for the next days and hitting millions of views on YouTube. Streams of Thought, Vol. 1, a collaborative EP with producer 9th Wonder, was released on June 1, 2018. Streams of Thought, Vol. 2, a collaboration with producer Salaam Remi, was released on November 26, 2018.
On August 28, 2020, Black Thought released the single "Good Morning" featuring Pusha T, Swizz Beatz and Killer Mike. It was included on the third installment of the Streams of Thought trilogy, which includes fifteen tracks and collaborations with Portugal. The Man, Schoolboy Q and The Last Artful, Dodgr.
Black Thought is "widely recognized as one of the most skilled, incisive, and prolific rappers of his time", according to AllMusic critic Andy Kellman. Henry Adaso of About.com praises him as "a surgeon of emceeing", and he is highly regarded for his multisyllabic rhymes, internal rhymes, flow, breath control, socially conscious lyrics, and live performances. Questlove stated that Black Thought's clarity and logic also distinguishes him from other MCs. In the book How to Rap, Kool G Rap described seeing the Roots perform his song "Men at Work" at a show; "I never really liked to perform it that much—because your breath control gotta be crazy. But somebody sent me a clip of the Roots ... and [Black Thought] did all three fucking verses and I couldn't believe it—he killed that shit". Black Thought has influenced several hip hop artists, including Logic, Joey Badass, Rapsody, k-os, and Shad.
- Streams of Thought, Vol. 3: Cane & Abel (2020)
With The Roots
- Organix (1993)
- Do You Want More?!!!??! (1995)
- Illadelph Halflife (1996)
- Things Fall Apart (1999)
- Phrenology (2002)
- The Tipping Point (2004)
- Game Theory (2006)
- Rising Down (2008)
- How I Got Over (2010)
- Undun (2011)
- ...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin (2014)
|"Meiso"||1995||DJ Krush, Malik B.||Meiso|
|"Da Jawn"||1996||Bahamadia, Malik B.||Kollage|
|"Get This Low"||1997||Jedi Mind Tricks, Jus Allah||The Psycho-Social|
|"Stolen Moments, Pt. 2"||Common||One Day It'll All Make Sense|
|"Listen to This"||Walkin' Large||Listen to This|
|"The Agenda"||Inoran||Sou (CDS)|
|"Live from the Stretch Armstrong Show with Your Host Bobbito "The Barber""||1998||Common, Pharoahe Monch, Absolute||Lyricist Lounge, Volume One|
|"It's About That Time"||Pete Rock, Rob-O||Soul Survivor|
|"Super Lyrical"||Big Pun||Capital Punishment|
|"Tabou (Roots Remix)"||1999||Les Nubians||Tabou (VLS)|
|"Burnin' and Lootin' (Remix)"||Bob Marley||Chant Down Babylon|
|"Respiration (Flying High Mix)"||Black Star||Respiration (VLS)|
|"Cold Blooded"||2000||Common, Roy Hargrove||Like Water for Chocolate|
|"Hurricane"||Common, Dice Raw, Flo Brown, Jazzyfatnastees, Mos Def||The Hurricane (Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture)|
|"Network"||The Pharcyde||Plain Rap|
|"Hard Hitters"||2001||Dilated Peoples||Expansion Team|
|"Zen Approach"||DJ Krush||Zen|
|"Guerilla Monsoon"||Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monch||Quality|
|"X-Ecutioner Style"||Linkin Park, Sean C, Roc Raida||Reanimation|
|"Live from the PJs"||2004||The X-Ecutioners, Ghostface Killah, Trife||Revolutions|
|"Appreciate"||2005||LaToya London||Love & Life|
|"Pimpa's Paradise"||Damian Marley||Welcome to Jamrock|
|"Right Now"||Fort Minor, Styles of Beyond||The Rising Tied|
|"Love Movin'"||2006||J Dilla||The Shining|
|"My Favorite Mutiny"||The Coup||Pick a Bigger Weapon|
|"Yes, Yes Y'all"||Sérgio Mendes, Chali 2na, Debi Nova, will.i.am||Timeless|
|"Clean Up"||2007||Strong Arm Steady, Saukrates||Deep Hearted|
|"Give It Up"||2008||Muja Messiah||Thee Adventures of a B-Boy D-Boy|
|"Hold Tight"||Skillz||The Million Dollar Backpack|
|"Cause I'm Black"||Styles P||Super Gangster (Extraordinary Gentleman)|
|"Hot Shyt"||2009||Wale||Back to the Feature|
|"Live Forever"||Cradle Orchestra||Velvet Ballads|
|"Philly Boy"||BK-One||Rádio do Canibal|
|"Reality TV"||J Dilla||Jay Stay Paid|
|"Slow Down"||Chiddy Bang, eLDee the Don||The Swelly Express|
|"Philadelphia Born and Raised"||2010||Meek Mill, Freeway, Young Chris||Flamers 3: The Wait Is Over|
|"Ill Street Blues"||STS||More Demand 2|
|"In tha Park"||Ghostface Killah||Apollo Kids|
|"Let Freedom Reign"||Chrisette Michele, Talib Kweli||Let Freedom Reign|
|"Philly Sh*t (Remix)"||Young Chris, Meek Mill, Eve||N/A|
|"The Masters of Our Fate"||2011||Raekwon||Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang|
|"Too Long"||Saigon||The Greatest Story Never Told|
|"Million Star Motel"||Nikki Jean, Lupe Fiasco||Pennies in a Jar|
|"God Knows Why"||Nneka||Soul Is Heavy|
|"Mathematics"||OCD: Moosh & Twist||The Welcome Mat|
|"Living in Bunkers"||2012||Hilltop Hoods, Lotek||Drinking from the Sun|
|"TNT (Remix)"||¡Mayday!, DJ Khaled, Stevie Stone, Jon Connor, Jay Rock||N/A|
|"Congregation"||Talib Kweli, Ab-Soul||Attack the Block|
|"Art Imitates Life"||2013||Talib Kweli, Rah Digga, ALBe. Back||Gravitas|
|"Try Again"||k-os||Black on Blonde|
|"Bird's Eye View"||Statik Selektah, Raekwon, Joey Badass||Extended Play|
|"Thought Process"||Tony Touch||The Piece Maker 3: Return of the 50 MC's|
|"Codes & Cab Fare"||Black Milk||No Poison No Paradise|
|"Rapid Eye Movement"||2014||Pharoahe Monch||PTSD|
|"The Imperial"||Statik Selektah, Action Bronson, Royce da 5'9"||What Goes Around|
|"Money Makes Us Happy"||2015||Skyzoo||Music for My Friends|
|"Immortals (Remix)"||Fall Out Boy||Make America Psycho Again|
|"Extradite"||Freddie Gibbs||Shadow of a Doubt|
|"Wishin' II"||PRhyme||PRhyme (Deluxe Version)|
|"Rise Up"||2016||Del the Funky Homosapien, Murs, Fashawn||Street Fighter V soundtrack|
|"America"||2017||Logic, Chuck D, Big Lenbo, No I.D.||Everybody|
|"Who Want It"||David Banner, Watch the Duck||The God Box|
|"Nobody"||Rapsody, Anderson .Paak, Moonchild||Laila's Wisdom|
|"Roman Candles"||2018||The Alchemist, Roc Marciano||Bread|
|"Diamond Cutters"||Roc Marciano||Behold a Dark Horse|
|"Crowns for Kings"||2019||Benny the Butcher||The Plugs I Met|
|"Education"||Freddie Gibbs, Yasiin Bey||Bandana|
|"Yah Yah"||2020||Eminem, Royce da 5'9", Q-Tip, Denaun||Music to Be Murdered By|
|"Hustle Don't Give"||Apollo Brown, Che Noir||As God Intended|
|"Fight the Power: Remix 2020"||Public Enemy, Nas, Rapsody, YG, Jahi, Questlove||What You Gonna Do When the Grid Goes Down?|
|"The Black Renaissance"||Sa-Roc||The Sharecropper's Daughter|
|"Ishkabibble's"||Westside Gunn||Who Made the Sunshine|
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- Black Thought Talks Lifestyle Change, Confirms Talented Mr.Trotter Still in Works & More Archived 2013-04-25 at the Wayback Machine. TheUberUrban.com (2013-02-26). Retrieved on 2013-08-25.
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