I remember my first time hearing Black Thought rap. I was… uhhh… Let’s say two sheets to the wind. Ha! More like out of my mind on something mind altering, but that’s a story for another day. Anyway I was at a party listening to The Roots 2nd studio album “Do You Want More?!!!??!”. When I hear Black Thought ask for a 5min break. I’m in another space and time at this point and it seemed appropriate I heard him ask this, as is the case with so many jazz recordings I’ve heard them mention this. To my surprise there was no 5 minute break. Instead they break right into what I soon after learned was a song called Essaywhuman?!!!??!. At the time and in a way still is to this day one of the coldest fusions of hiphop and jazz I had ever heard.
The lyrics and delivery was so unique and full of flavor, it was undeniably fresh. Now keep in mind this was during what alot of people proclaim as the golden era of hiphop. So there was no shortage of great lyrics and delivery, but the way Tariq Trotter stepped to the mic… I had never heard it like that before and I have yet to hear another person flow like him. To me that is one of the most important aspects to music. Timeless originality. It’s what gives so many artists that staying power that keeps them relevant no matter the era.
Around the time The Roots dropped Illadelph Halflife I saw that lyrical prowess live and direct. I don’t know if it was the phenomenal opening set by Rubberoom, or just The Roots themselves. Either way I was hooked. Much like that concert Black Thoughts first solo project has this way of just pulling you into that same sophisticated street style cat persona that he’s made his signature style. By the slang and presentation you hear it in his voice. He’s no stranger to the ruff side of the tracks. Though through is vocab and play on words you can see that he’s surpassed that mind frame and evolved into something different, some might say superior to your average street cat.
Most people only associate The Roots, and Mr. Trotter as the house band for the THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON. I suggest highly you dig a little deeper. There is so much more to them. What could possibly be one of the most important hiphop groups of all time, and one of the best lyricists of our generation. Mr. Trotter and 9th Wonder partner up to solidify their place in the culture with this project. With effortless mastery, stories are told and scenes are set in a style only these 2 can create.