Tariq Luqmaan Trotter (born October 3, 1971),[1] better known as Black Thought, is an American rapper, singer, actor and the lead MC of the Philadelphia-based hip hop group The Roots, which he co-founded with drummer Questlove. Regarded as "one of the most skilled, incisive, and prolific rappers of his time",[2][3] he is widely lauded for his live performance skills, continuous multisyllabic rhyme schemes, complex lyricism, double entendres, and politically aware lyrics. He and The Roots are a part of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, frequently playing games with Fallon and his guests.

Black Thought
Black Thought performing in 2011
Black Thought performing in 2011
Background information
Birth nameTariq Luqmaan Trotter
Also known as
  • Tarik Collins
  • Reek Ruffin
  • Riq Geez
  • The Bad Lieutenant
Born (1971-10-03) October 3, 1971 (age 52)[1]
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.[1]
OriginPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
GenresHip hop
  • Rapper
  • songwriter
  • actor
  • author
Years active1987–present
Member of

Early life edit

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 year old, and his mother was murdered when he was in high school.[4] 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.[4] Trotter attended the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts and Millersville University, studying journalism. In 1987, he became friends with drummer Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and formed a drummer/MC duo, performing on the streets of Philadelphia and at talent shows.[5] Trotter subsequently spent some time as one of two MCs in the group the Square Roots; the other was Malik B., whom Tariq met in college.[6] In high school, Black Thought became interested in the lessons of the Nation of Gods and Earths.[7] [failed verification]

The Roots edit

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 to chart within the top 40 spots on the Billboard 200 because of the successful single "What They Do".[5] Things Fall Apart followed in 1999, the year the band played at the Woodstock 99 concert.[8]

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.[9] Things Fall Apart was nominated for Best Rap Album.[10] For Jay-Z's acoustic concert for the television program MTV Unplugged, the Roots provided instrumentals.[11] 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 with the Roots in Hamburg, Germany, in 1999

Solo music career edit

Black Thought recorded a solo album, titled Masterpiece Theatre and intended for a 2001 release,[12] 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 ultimately appeared on Phrenology. 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 said that Questlove might work on production.[13] However, by September 2014, Black Thought and the solo album were not referenced on the Razor & Tie website.[14]

Black Thought's first release outside of The Roots was the 2011 mixtape The Prestige, which he released alongside 10.Deep and the Money Making Jam Collective, the latter of which included longtime Roots collaborators such as Dice Raw, S.T.S., P.O.R.N., and Truck North.[15] In 2013, he stated his intention to follow the mixtape with an album titled Talented Mr. Trotter.[16] However, Black Thought's next release would instead be the EP Streams of Thought, Vol. 1, a June 2018 collaboration with producer 9th Wonder.[17] That November, Black Thought and Salaam Remi released a follow-up EP, Streams of Thought, Vol. 2. The third installment in the "Streams of Thought" series, Streams of Thought, Vol. 3: Cane & Able, was a full studio album released in 2020. The album was preceded by the single "Good Morning", which featured Pusha T, Killer Mike, and Swizz Beatz; other featured artists on the album include Portugal. The Man, Schoolboy Q and the Last Artful, Dodgr.[18]

Black Thought and Danger Mouse had begun work on a collaborative album, originally titled Dangerous Thoughts, in 2006.[19] There was no further news about this album for years,[20] until the artists announced in May 2022 that they would be releasing their collaboration that August.[21] The album, retitled Cheat Codes, was released on August 10, 2022. Cheat Codes included a posthumous appearance from MF Doom; other featured artists included Raekwon, Kid Sister, Joey Badass, Russ, Dylan Cartlidge, Michael Kiwanuka, ASAP Rocky, Run the Jewels, and Conway the Machine.

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. Capcom released a music video for the song that included appearances by Black Thought and his fellow collaborators.[22]

In December 2017, Black Thought appeared on HOT 97 with Funkmaster Flex and performed a 10-minute freestyle over "The Learning (Burn)" instrumental by Mobb Deep. This freestyle went widely viral, trending on Twitter for the next days and hitting millions of views on YouTube.[23][24]

Other work edit

Black Thought starred in films such as Bamboozled (2000), and the 2001 films Perfume, Love Rome, and Brooklyn Babylon.[12] He made his stage debut in January 2022, playing Dr. Junius Crookman in the musical Black No More; he also wrote the lyrics and co-wrote the music for the production.[25]

In 2013, Black Thought began work on a memoir with journalist and music critic Jeff Chang and filmmaker Maori Karmael Holmes.[26] An autobiography entitled The Upcycled Self was released on November 14, 2023.[27]

Black Thought was also an executive producer for the short film Ash Land, which is featured in the 2023 Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Cyberland Short Films collection, and it's about a woman who loses and then finds herself again while living in the mountains of Ashland, a small town in Oregon during the COVID pandemic, where the festival takes place. Ash Land was an official selection in 2021 for the Academy Award–qualifying Pan African Film Festival, the Brooklyn Film Festival, Bronzelens Film Festival, and Martha Vineyard’s African American Film Festival. The film is directed by South African native Shariffa Ali and written by Banna Desta The film ends with a closing fade to black and voice over of Black Thought addressing the “Black Experience” in Oregon with a powerful and final affirmation: “We Black. We in Oregon. Look at us.”

Legacy edit

Black Thought is "widely recognized as one of the most skilled, incisive, and prolific rappers of his time", according to AllMusic critic Andy Kellman.[2] Henry Adaso of About.com praises him as "a surgeon of emceeing",[28] and he is highly regarded for his multisyllabic rhymes,[29] internal rhymes,[30] flow,[31] breath control,[32] socially conscious lyrics,[33] and live performances.[32] Questlove stated that Black Thought's clarity and logic also distinguishes him from other emcees,[34] and Stephen Kearse of Pitchfork notes that his "ability to use words as textures as much as tools has always been a hallmark of his style".[35] In the book How to Rap, emcee 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".[32] Black Thought has influenced several hip hop artists, including Logic,[36] Joey Badass,[37] Rapsody,[38] k-os,[39] and Shad.[40]

Personal life edit

Black Thought and his wife Michelle were married in 2010.[41][42] He has four sons and a daughter.[43]

Discography edit

Studio albums edit

Title Album details Peak chart positions


Streams of Thought, Vol. 3: Cane & Able
Cheat Codes
(with Danger Mouse)
  • Released: August 12, 2022
  • Label: BMG
  • Format: LP, digital download, streaming
43 26 17 8 33 8 28
Glorious Game
(with El Michels Affair)
  • Released: April 14, 2023
  • Label: Big Crown
  • Format: LP, digital download, streaming

Extended plays edit

Title EP details Peak chart positions


Streams of Thought, Vol. 1
  • Released: June 1, 2018
  • Label: Human Re Sources
  • Format: Digital download, streaming
62 33 7
Streams of Thought, Vol. 2
(with Salaam Remi)
  • Released: November 26, 2018
  • Label: Human Re Sources, Passyunk
  • Format: Digital download, streaming
African Dreams
(with Seun Kuti)
  • Released: December 9, 2022[52]
  • Label: Ske80
  • Format: Digital download, streaming

With The Roots edit

Guest appearances edit

List of guest appearances
Title Year Other artist(s) Album
"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
"Suga Sista" 1999 Rahzel Make the Music 2000
"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"[53] 2001 Dilated Peoples Expansion Team
"Zen Approach" DJ Krush Zen
"Clap!" 2002 Soulive Next
"Guerrilla Monsoon Rap" Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monch Quality
"X-Ecutioner Style"[54] 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
"Flutlicht" Curse Sinnflut
"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"[55] 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
"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
"Riot" Thurz L.A. Riot
"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
"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
"Nobody but Me" Michael Bublé Nobody but Me
"America" 2017 Logic, Chuck D, Big Lenbo, No I.D. Everybody
"Who Want It" David Banner, Watch the Duck The God Box
"Ng'yekeleni" Cassper Nyovest Thuto
"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
"The Healing" Statik Selektah The Balancing Act
"Pravda" Your Old Droog, Mach-Hommy, El-P, Tha God Fahim Dump Yod
"Momentum" Russ, Benny the Butcher Chomp
"Rolling 110 Deep" 2021 DJ Kay Slay Accolades
"When We Move" Common, Seun Kuti A Beautiful Revolution, Part 2
"Few Good Things" 2022 Saba, Eryn Allen Kane Few Good Things
"Freequency" Black Star No Fear of Time
"Disgusting" Apathy King of Gods. No Second
"Drug Trade" 2023 Smoke DZA & Flying Lotus Flying Objects

Filmography edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c Betts, Reginald Dwayne (February 24, 2022). "Is There Such a Thing as Black Thought?". The New York Times. Retrieved March 10, 2022.
  2. ^ a b Black Thought – Biography. AllMusic. Accessed on August 28, 2020.
  3. ^ Interview of Jamal Greene, brother of Talib Kweli. Conversation with Tyler. Accessed on June 2nd 2022.
  4. ^ a b Cooper, Barry Michael (November 1, 2017). "The Roots' Black Thought on Philadelphia Style. And His Beard". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  5. ^ a b Bush, John (2008). "The Roots – Biography". allmusic. Retrieved March 7, 2009.
  6. ^ "Gibson Salutes Black History Month – The Roots". Gibson. February 14, 2007. Archived from the original on September 26, 2012. Retrieved March 7, 2009.
  7. ^ Markman, Rob (June 24, 2011). "Rakim Calls His Longevity In Rap Game 'A Blessing' – Music, Celebrity, Artist News". MTV. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
  8. ^ "Elvis Costello, Roots, Megadeth, Others Added To Woodstock Lineup". MTV News. July 12, 1999. Retrieved March 3, 2009.
  9. ^ "Santana, Aguilera, The Roots Ponder Grammy Honors". MTV News. February 24, 2000. Retrieved March 3, 2009.
  10. ^ "42nd Annual Grammy Awards nominations". CNN. January 4, 2000. Archived from the original on January 24, 2010. Retrieved March 3, 2009.
  11. ^ Reid, Shaheem (December 17, 2001). "Roots' Questlove Gives Backstage Access To Jay-Z Unplugged". MTV News. Retrieved March 3, 2009.
  12. ^ a b Demby, Eric (January 23, 2001). "Roots' Black Thought Busy With Album, Movies". MTV News. Retrieved March 7, 2009.
  13. ^ Kayser, Brian (June 29, 2008). "Black Thought". HipHopGame. Archived from the original on March 10, 2009. Retrieved March 7, 2009.
  14. ^ "Artists". Razor & Tie. Razor & Tie Direct L.L.C. September 8, 2014. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  15. ^ "10.Deep Presents: Money Making Jam Boys". Archived from the original on August 10, 2011.
  16. ^ Black Thought Talks Lifestyle Change, Confirms Talented Mr.Trotter Still in Works & More Archived April 25, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. TheUberUrban.com (February 26, 2013). Retrieved on 2013-08-25.
  17. ^ Yoo, Noah (May 25, 2018). "The Roots' Black Thought & 9th Wonder Announce New Project". Pitchfork.
  18. ^ Rose, Jordan (August 28, 2020). "Black Thought Shares New Track "Good Morning" f/ Pusha-T, Killer Mike, and Swizz Beatz". Complex. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  19. ^ "The Paybacks". XXL. August 18, 2006. Archived from the original on March 13, 2009. Retrieved March 7, 2009.
  20. ^ Patrice Evans (December 16, 2011). "The Danger Mouse Factor: Checking in on the DJ Auteur". Grantland. ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  21. ^ "Black Thought's Next Album Is Produced By Danger Mouse. Here's The 1st Single". Ambrosia For Heads. May 11, 2022. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
  22. ^ "Rise Up feat. Del the Funky Homosapian, Murs, Fashawn, Quest Love, Black Thought & Domino". youtube.com. February 15, 2016. Archived from the original on February 16, 2016. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  23. ^ Madden, Sidney (December 14, 2017). "Black Thought Shows Off The Art of the Unrelenting Freestyle". NPR.
  24. ^ Cobb, Jelani (December 17, 2017). "The Lesson Of Black Thought's Viral Freestyle". The New Yorker.
  25. ^ "The New Group – Black No More". The New Group. Archived from the original on February 14, 2022. Retrieved February 11, 2022.
  26. ^ ?uestlove to Publish Memoir, Black Thought Working on Solo Album With Jim James, TVOTR's Tunde | News. Pitchfork (February 27, 2013). Retrieved on 2013-08-25.
  27. ^ Corcoran, Nina (May 9, 2023). "The Roots' Black Thought Announces New Memoir The Upcycled Self". Pitchfork. Retrieved May 12, 2023.
  28. ^ 50 Greatest Rappers of All Time Archived March 9, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. About.com. Accessed on August 28, 2020.
  29. ^ "Poet Laureate: Black Thought's All-Time Top 5 Verses". HipHopDX. December 30, 2017. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  30. ^ "Black Thought – Streams of Thought, Vol. 1". Pitchfork. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  31. ^ Edwards (2009), p. 133.
  32. ^ a b c Edwards (2009), p. 290.
  33. ^ "Review: Black Thought Delivers GOAT Level Lyricism On "Streams Of Thought Vol. 1"". HipHopDX. June 2018. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  34. ^ Coleman (2007), p. 377.
  35. ^ "Streams of Thought, Vol. 3: Cane & Able EP". Pitchfork. Retrieved November 14, 2020.
  36. ^ DelaCuesta, JP (February 10, 2012). "Logic: Enter the Mind of the Maryland Spitter". AllHipHop. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  37. ^ Joey Bada$$ – Biography. AllMusic. Accessed on August 28, 2020.
  38. ^ Rapsody – Related. AllMusic. Accessed on August 28, 2020.
  39. ^ K-OS – Amalgamated Chaos ION Magazine. Accessed on August 28, 2020.
  40. ^ "Shad raps about school, spirit & inspiration". CultMTL.com. May 17, 2013. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  41. ^ Porter, Lauren (November 28, 2017). "Black Thought On His Beard". Essence. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  42. ^ "Black Thought". Biography. Archived from the original on October 8, 2018. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  43. ^ Bartos, Adrian; Garcia, Robert (September 19, 2018). "The Roots' Black Thought On How Art Saved His Life". NPR.org. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  44. ^ a b "Black Thought Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved May 6, 2023.
  45. ^ a b "Black Thought Chart History: Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums". Billboard. Retrieved May 6, 2023.
  46. ^ "Black Thought Chart History: Top Rap Albums". Billboard. Retrieved May 6, 2023.
  47. ^ "Black Thought Chart History: Germany Albums". Billboard. Retrieved May 6, 2023.
  48. ^ "NZ Top 40 Albums Chart". The Official New Zealand Music Chart. August 22, 2022. Retrieved May 6, 2023.
  49. ^ "Official Scottish Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. August 19, 2022. Retrieved May 6, 2023.
  50. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. August 19, 2022. Retrieved May 6, 2023.
  51. ^ "Black Thought Chart History: Independent Albums". Billboard. Retrieved May 6, 2023.
  52. ^ "African Dreams – Single by Seun Kuti & Black Thought on Apple Music". Apple Music. Retrieved May 6, 2023.
  53. ^ Moss, Corey (August 14, 2001). "Tha Liks, Black Thought Join Dilated Peoples' Team". MTV News. Retrieved March 8, 2009.
  54. ^ D'Angelo, Joe (July 26, 2002). "2Na But No Neptunes On Linkin Park Remix LP — Here's Why". MTV News. Retrieved March 8, 2009.
  55. ^ Andres Vasquez (May 1, 2006). "The Coup Pick A Bigger Weapon". Hip Hop DX. Cheri Media Group. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  56. ^ DeFore, John (March 15, 2011). "Yelling to the Sky: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 4, 2012.

Further reading edit

External links edit