Black Thought

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Black Thought
Black Thought 2011.jpg
Background information
Birth name Tariq (Tarik)[1] Trotter
Born (1971-10-03) October 3, 1971 (age 42)
Origin Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Genres Hip hop
Years active 1987–present
Labels Okayplayer, Def Jam
Associated acts The Roots, Money Making Jam Boys, Black Star, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common,
Website [1]

Tariq Luqmaan Trotter (born October 3, 1971), better known as Black Thought, is an American artist who is the lead MC of the Philadelphia-based hip hop group The Roots, as well as an occasional actor. Black Thought, who co-founded The Roots with drummer Questlove (Ahmir Thompson), is widely lauded for his live performance skills and his complex and politically aware lyrical content.

Early life[edit]

Black Thought was born Tariq Luqmaan Trotter, to Thomas and Cassandra Trotter, both members of the Nation of Islam who were murdered when Trotter was one and seventeen years old respectively. 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 converted to the Islamic sect of The Nation of Gods and Earths.[4][not in citation given]

With the help of the African Ancestry genetic testing, Black Thought learned that he was maternally descended from the Mende People of Sierra Leone and the Mandinka people of Senegal.[citation needed]

The Roots[edit]

The Square Roots renamed themselves the Roots and released its 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[edit]

Films in which Black Thought starred in include Bamboozled (2000), Perfume, Love Rome, and Brooklyn Babylon (both 2001).[9]

Black Thought has made guest performances on several other records including "Pimpas Paradise" by Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley, Expansion Team by Dilated Peoples,[10] One Day It'll All Make Sense by Common, Reanimation by Linkin Park,[11] Pick a Bigger Weapon by The Coup, The Rising Tied by Fort Minor and A Ma Zone by Zap Mama.

Black Thought recorded a solo album to be titled Masterpiece Theatre and released in summer 2001,[9] but the project was scrapped after learning that the album wouldn't count towards The Roots' current contract commitments. Most of the songs demoed wound up on The Roots' Phrenology album. In 2006, he began working on a collaborative project with producer Danger Mouse titled Dangerous Thoughts.[12] In a June 2008 interview with Brian Kayser of the website HipHopGame, Black Thought spoke of yet another solo project, which will come out on the label Razor and Tie. He stated that there would be the possibility of Questlove working on production.[13] In 2008, nominated Black Thought as among the "World's Sexiest Vegetarians".[14]

In February 2011, Black Thought, along with 10.Deep and his side collective "Money Making Jam Boys", which includes Dice Raw, S.T.S., Truck North and P.O.R.N., released the mixtape titled The Prestige.[15]

In early 2013, Black Thought confirmed that he was continuing work on a solo album entitled Talented Mr. Trotter with Jim James and Tunde Adebimpe.[16] At this time, he began working on a memoir with journalist and music critic Jeff Chang and filmmaker Maori Karmael.[17]


Further information: The Roots discography
  • The Talented Mr. Trotter (TBA)[18]




  1. ^ The Roots's Undun album (2012) booklet lists his name as Tarik "Black Thought" Thompson.
  2. ^ a b Bush, John (2008). "The Roots - Biography". allmusic. Retrieved 2009-03-07. 
  3. ^ "Gibson Salutes Black History Month - The Roots". Gibson. 2007-02-14. 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. 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. ^ a b 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. ^ D'Angelo, Joe (2002-07-26). "2Na But No Neptunes On Linkin Park Remix LP — Here's Why". MTV News. Retrieved 2009-03-08. 
  12. ^ "The Paybacks". XXL. 2006-08-18. Retrieved 2009-03-07. 
  13. ^ Kayser, Brian (2008-06-29). "Black Thought". HipHopGame. Retrieved 2009-03-07. 
  14. ^ "Milano and Iero". 
  15. ^ "10.Deep Presents: Money Making Jam Boys". 
  16. ^ Black Thought Talks Lifestyle Change,Confirms Talented Mr.Trotter Still in Works & More. (2013-02-26). Retrieved on 2013-08-25.
  17. ^ ?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.
  18. ^ Eddie "STATS" (2013-02-26). "Black Thought Speaks On Solo LP "The Talented Mr. Trotter’ + Other New Projects". Okayplayer. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  19. ^ DeFore, John (15 March 2011). "Yelling to the Sky: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 4 March 2012. 

External links[edit]