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Black Thought

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Title: Black Thought  
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Subject: The Roots, Undun, Brooklyn Babylon, Welcome to Jamrock, The Rising Tied
Collection: 1971 Births, 20Th-Century American Male Actors, 21St-Century American Male Actors, African-American Male Actors, African-American Male Rappers, Alternative Hip Hop Musicians, American Male Film Actors, American People of Mandinka Descent, American People of Senegalese Descent, Def Jam Recordings Artists, East Coast Hip Hop Musicians, Five Percenters, Geffen Records Artists, Living People, Male Actors from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Millersville University of Pennsylvania Alumni, Rappers from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Songwriters from Pennsylvania, The Roots Members, The Tonight Show Band Members
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Black Thought

Black Thought
Black Thought in 2011
Background information
Birth name Tariq Luqmaan Trotter
Born (1971-10-03) October 3, 1971
Origin Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Genres Hip hop
Years active 1987–present
Labels Okayplayer, Def Jam
Associated acts The Roots, Rahzel, Dice Raw, Money Making Jam Boys, Black Star, Talib Kweli, Common, Pharoahe Monch, Kanye West, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Statik Selektah, Joey Bada$$, J Dilla, Blu, Lupe Fiasco, Malik B, D'Angelo, Mos Def, Sean Price, Q-Tip

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, continuous multisyllabic rhyme schemes, complex lyricism, double entendres, and politically aware lyrics.


  • Early life 1
  • The Roots 2
  • Other work 3
  • Discography 4
    • Appearances 4.1
  • Filmography 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life

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.[1] 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.[2] In high-school, Black Thought converted to the Islamic sect of The Nation of Gods and Earths.[3]

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.

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".[1] Things Fall Apart followed in 1999, the year the band played at the Woodstock 99 concert.[4]

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

1999 with The Roots in Hamburg/Germany

Other work

Black Thought starred in films such as Bamboozled (2000), Perfume, Love Rome (2001), and Brooklyn Babylon (2001).[8]

Black Thought's numerous musical guest performances include "Pimpas Paradise," by Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley; "Hard Hitters," by Dilated Peoples;[9] "Stolen Moments Part 2," by Common;[10] "X-Ecutioner Style," by Linkin Park;[11] "My Favorite Mutiny," by The Coup;[12] "Right Now," by Fort Minor;[13] and "Rafiki," by Zap Mama.[14]

Black Thought recorded a solo album, to be titled Masterpiece Theatre and released in 2001,[8] 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.[15] As of December 2011, the album had not been released.[16]

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

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.[19]

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.[20] 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.[21][22]

In early 2013, Black Thought confirmed his continuing work, with Jim James and Tunde Adebimpe, on a solo album entitled Talented Mr. Trotter.[23] At this time, he began work on a memoir with journalist and music critic Jeff Chang, as well as filmmaker Maori Karmael.[24]

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. [25]


  • The Live Mixtape (2015) (with J.Period)
  • The Talented Mr. Trotter (TBA)[26]




  1. ^ a b Bush, John (2008). "The Roots - Biography". allmusic. Retrieved 2009-03-07. 
  2. ^ "Gibson Salutes Black History Month - The Roots". Gibson. 2007-02-14. Retrieved 2009-03-07. 
  3. ^ Markman, Rob (2011-06-24). "Rakim Calls His Longevity In Rap Game 'A Blessing' - Music, Celebrity, Artist News". MTV. Retrieved 2012-03-29. 
  4. ^ "Elvis Costello, Roots, Megadeth, Others Added To Woodstock Lineup". MTV News. 1999-07-12. Retrieved 2009-03-03. 
  5. ^ "Santana, Aguilera, The Roots Ponder Grammy Honors". MTV News. 2000-02-24. Retrieved 2009-03-03. 
  6. ^ "42nd Annual Grammy Awards nominations". CNN. 2000-01-04. Retrieved 2009-03-03. 
  7. ^ Reid, Shaheem (2001-12-17). "Roots' Questlove Gives Backstage Access To Jay-Z Unplugged". MTV News. Retrieved 2009-03-03. 
  8. ^ a b Demby, Eric (2001-01-23). "Roots' Black Thought Busy With Album, Movies". MTV News. Retrieved 2009-03-07. 
  9. ^ Moss, Corey (2001-08-14). "Tha Liks, Black Thought Join Dilated Peoples' Team". MTV News. Retrieved 2009-03-08. 
  10. ^ "One Day It'll All Make Sense Common". iTunes Preview. Apple, Inc. 14 October 1997. Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  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. ^ Andres Vasquez (1 May 2006). "The Coup Pick A Bigger Weapon". Hip Hop DX. Cheri Media Group. Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  13. ^ "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. 
  14. ^ "Rafiki -- Zap Mama feat. Black Thought [w/ ur lyrics]" (Video upload). 4bibimimi on YouTube. Google Inc. 28 September 2012. Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  15. ^ "The Paybacks". XXL. 2006-08-18. Retrieved 2009-03-07. 
  16. ^ Patrice Evans (16 December 2011). "The Danger Mouse Factor: Checking in on the DJ Auteur". Grantland. ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  17. ^ Kayser, Brian (2008-06-29). "Black Thought". HipHopGame. Retrieved 2009-03-07. 
  18. ^ "Artists". Razor & Tie. Razor & Tie Direct L.L.C. 8 September 2014. Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  19. ^ "10.Deep Presents: Money Making Jam Boys". 
  20. ^ a b "Drinking from the Sun (Deluxe Version) Hilltop Hoods". iTines Preview. Apple Inc. 9 March 2012. Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  21. ^ "NEW TRACK: NNEKA – "GOD KNOWS WHY" FT. BLACK THOUGHT + MP3, BET 106 & PARK TODAY, & TOUR DATES". Giant Step. Giant Step. 6 March 2012. Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  22. ^ Yolanda Sangweni (20 March 2012). "New and Next: Meet Nigerian Soul Singer, Nneka". Essence. Essence Communications Inc. Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  23. ^ Black Thought Talks Lifestyle Change,Confirms Talented Mr.Trotter Still in Works & More. (2013-02-26). Retrieved on 2013-08-25.
  24. ^ ?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.
  25. ^ "Black Thought Working On First Solo Album". 2015-04-17. 
  26. ^ Eddie "STATS" (2013-02-26). "Black Thought Speaks On Solo LP "The Talented Mr. Trotter’ + Other New Projects".  
  27. ^ DeFore, John (15 March 2011). "Yelling to the Sky: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 4 March 2012. 

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