Black Thought

Tariq Luqmaan Trotter (born October 3, 1975), 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), as well as an occasional actor. 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
Background information
Birth nameTariq Luqmaan Trotter
Born (1975-10-03) October 3, 1975
OriginPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
GenresHip hop
Years active1987–present
Associated acts

Early life

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.[1] 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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] In high school, Black Thought became interested in the lessons of the Nation of Gods and Earths, which you can still hear resonate in some of his bars.[4]

The Roots

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".[2] Things Fall Apart followed in 1999, the year the band played at the Woodstock 99 concert.[5]

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.[6] The Roots' album Things Fall Apart was nominated for the Best Rap Album award.[7] For Jay-Z's acoustic concert for the television program MTV Unplugged, The Roots provided instrumentals.[8] 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).

Other work

Black Thought starred in films such as Bamboozled (2000), and the 2001 films Perfume, Love Rome, and Brooklyn Babylon.[9]

Black Thought's numerous musical guest performances include "Pimpas Paradise", by Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley; "Hard Hitters", by Dilated Peoples;[10] "Stolen Moments Part 2", by Common;[11] "X-Ecutioner Style", by Linkin Park;[12] "My Favorite Mutiny", by The Coup;[13] "Right Now", by Fort Minor;[14] and "Rafiki", by Zap Mama.[15]

Black Thought recorded a solo album, to be titled Masterpiece Theatre and released in 2001,[9] 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 2006, he began working on a collaborative project with producer Danger Mouse, titled Dangerous Thoughts.[16] As of September 2017, the album had not been released.[17]

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.[18] As of September 2014, neither Black Thought nor the solo album are listed on the Razor & Tie website.[19]

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.[20]

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.[21] 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.[22][23]

In early 2013, Black Thought confirmed his continuing work, with Jim James and Tunde Adebimpe, on a solo album entitled Talented Mr. Trotter.[24] At this time, he began work on a memoir with journalist and music critic Jeff Chang, as well as filmmaker Maori Karmael.[25]

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.[26]

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.[27]

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.[28][29] Streams of Thought, Vol. 1, a collaborative EP with producer 9th Wonder, was released on June 1, 2018.[30] Streams of Thought, Vol. 2: Traxploitation, a collaboration with producer Salaam Remi, was released on November 26, 2018.

Personal life

Black Thought married his wife Michelle in 2010.[31][32] He has four sons and one daughter.[33]



With The Roots




  1. Cooper, Barry Michael (2017-11-01). "The Roots' Black Thought on Philadelphia Style. And His Beard". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-02-18.
  2. Bush, John (2008). "The Roots - Biography". allmusic. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
  3. "Gibson Salutes Black History Month - The Roots". Gibson. 2007-02-14. Archived from the original on 2012-09-26. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
  4. Markman, Rob (2011-06-24). "Rakim Calls His Longevity In Rap Game 'A Blessing' - Music, Celebrity, Artist News". MTV. Retrieved 2012-03-29.
  5. "Elvis Costello, Roots, Megadeth, Others Added To Woodstock Lineup". MTV News. 1999-07-12. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
  6. "Santana, Aguilera, The Roots Ponder Grammy Honors". MTV News. 2000-02-24. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
  7. "42nd Annual Grammy Awards nominations". CNN. 2000-01-04. Archived from the original on 2010-01-24. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
  8. Reid, Shaheem (2001-12-17). "Roots' Questlove Gives Backstage Access To Jay-Z Unplugged". MTV News. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
  9. Demby, Eric (2001-01-23). "Roots' Black Thought Busy With Album, Movies". MTV News. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
  10. Moss, Corey (2001-08-14). "Tha Liks, Black Thought Join Dilated Peoples' Team". MTV News. Retrieved 2009-03-08.
  11. "One Day It'll All Make Sense Common". iTunes Preview. Apple, Inc. 14 October 1997. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  12. D'Angelo, Joe (2002-07-26). "2Na But No Neptunes On Linkin Park Remix LP — Here's Why". MTV News. Retrieved 2009-03-08.
  13. Andres Vasquez (1 May 2006). "The Coup Pick A Bigger Weapon". Hip Hop DX. Cheri Media Group. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  14. "Fort Minor - Right Now (feat. Black Thought of The Roots and Styles of Beyond)" (Video upload). FortMinorVideos on YouTube. Google Inc. 30 August 2010. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  15. "Rafiki -- Zap Mama feat. Black Thought [w/ ur lyrics]" (Video upload). 4bibimimi on YouTube. Google Inc. 28 September 2012. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  16. "The Paybacks". XXL. 2006-08-18. Archived from the original on 2009-03-13. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
  17. Patrice Evans (16 December 2011). "The Danger Mouse Factor: Checking in on the DJ Auteur". Grantland. ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  18. Kayser, Brian (2008-06-29). "Black Thought". HipHopGame. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
  19. "Artists". Razor & Tie. Razor & Tie Direct L.L.C. 8 September 2014. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  20. "10.Deep Presents: Money Making Jam Boys". Archived from the original on 2011-08-10.
  21. "Drinking from the Sun (Deluxe Version) Hilltop Hoods". iTines Preview. Apple Inc. 9 March 2012. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  22. "NEW TRACK: NNEKA – "GOD KNOWS WHY" FT. BLACK THOUGHT + MP3, BET 106 & PARK TODAY, & TOUR DATES". Giant Step. Giant Step. 6 March 2012. Archived from the original on 8 September 2014. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  23. Yolanda Sangweni (20 March 2012). "New and Next: Meet Nigerian Soul Singer, Nneka". Essence. Essence Communications Inc. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  24. Black Thought Talks Lifestyle Change, Confirms Talented Mr.Trotter Still in Works & More Archived 2013-04-25 at the Wayback Machine. (2013-02-26). Retrieved on 2013-08-25.
  25. ?uestlove to Publish Memoir, Black Thought Working on Solo Album With Jim James, TVOTR's Tunde | News. Pitchfork (2013-02-27). Retrieved on 2013-08-25.
  26. "Black Thought Working On First Solo Album". 2015-04-17.
  27. "Rise Up feat. Del the Funky Homosapian, Murs, Fashawn, Quest Love, Black Thought & Domino". 2016-02-15. Retrieved 2015-02-15.
  28. Madden, Sidney (2017-12-14). "Black Thought Shows Off The Art of the Unrelenting Freestyle". NPR.
  29. Cobb, Jelani (2017-12-17). "The Lesson Of Black Thought's Viral Freestyle". The New Yorker.
  30. Yoo, Noah (2018-05-25). "The Roots' Black Thought & 9th Wonder Announce New Project". Pitchfork.
  31. Porter, Lauren (28 November 2017). "Black Thought On His Beard". Essence. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  32. "Black Thought". Biography. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  33. Bartos, Adrian; Garcia, Robert (19 September 2018). "The Roots' Black Thought On How Art Saved His Life". Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  34. "Stream Logic's New Album 'Everybody'". XXL. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  37. DeFore, John (15 March 2011). "Yelling to the Sky: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
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