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Black Thought

Black Thought

American actor and singer
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro American actor and singer
Countries Mali United States of America
Occupations Musician Actor Rapper Singer Songwriter
Gender male
Birth October 3, 1972 (Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.)
Black Thought
The details

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

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. 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. In high-school, Black Thought converted to the pseudo-Islamic sect of The Nation of Gods and Earths.

With the help of 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". Things Fall Apart followed in 1999, the year the band played at the Woodstock 99 concert.

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

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

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

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

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.

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. 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.

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

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.

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.


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


  • 1995: "Meiso", Meiso, DJ Krush
  • 1996: "Da Jawn", Kollage, Bahamadia
  • 1997: "Get This Low", The Psycho-Social, Jedi Mind Tricks
  • 1997: "Stolen Moments, Pt. 2", One Day It'll All Make Sense, Common
  • 1997: "Listen to This", Listen To This, Walkin' Large
  • 1997: "The Agenda", Sou, Inoran
  • 1998: "It's About That Time", Soul Survivor, Pete Rock
  • 1998: "Live From the Stretch Armstrong Show", Lyricist Lounge Volume One, Various Artists
  • 1998: "Super Lyrical", Capital Punishment, Big Pun
  • 1998: "Tabou (Roots Remix)", Princesses Nubians, Les Nubians
  • 1999: "Burnin' and Lootin'", Chant Down Babylon (Post-Humous Remix), Bob Marley
  • 1999: "Respiration (Flying High Remix)", Respiration 12", Black Star
  • 2000: "Cold Blooded", Like Water for Chocolate, Common
  • 2000: "Hurricane", The Hurricane Soundtrack, Black Thought, Common, Dice Raw, Flo Brown, Jazzyfatnastees and Mos Def
  • 2000: "Network", Plain Rap, The Pharcyde
  • 2001: "Hard Hitters", Expansion Team, Dilated Peoples
  • 2001: "Zen Approach", Zen, DJ Krush
  • 2002: "Clap!", Next, Soulive
  • 2002: "Guerilla Monsoon Rap", Quality, Talib Kweli
  • 2002: "X-Ecutioner Style", Reanimation, Linkin Park
  • 2004: "Live From The PJs", Revolutions, The X-Ecutioners
  • 2005: "Appreciate", Love and Life, LaToya London
  • 2005: "Flutlicht", Sinnflut, Curse
  • 2005: "Pimpa's Paradise", Welcome to Jamrock, Damian Marley
  • 2005: "Right Now", The Rising Tied, Fort Minor
  • 2006: "Love Movin'", The Shining, J Dilla
  • 2006: "My Favorite Mutiny", Pick A Bigger Weapon, The Coup
  • 2006: "Yes, Yes Y'all", Timeless, Sérgio Mendes
  • 2007: "Clean Up", Deep Hearted, Strong Arm Steady
  • 2008: "Give It Up", Thee Adventures Of A B-Boy D-Boy, Muja Messiah
  • 2008: "Hold Tight", The Million Dollar Backpack, Skillz
  • 2008: "Cause I'm Black", Super Gangster (Extraordinary Gentleman), Styles P
  • 2009: "Hot Shyt", "Back to the Feature", Wale
  • 2009: "Live Forever", Velvet Ballads, Cradle Orchestra
  • 2009: "Philly Boy", Rádio do Canibal, BK-One
  • 2009: "Reality TV", Jay Stay Paid, J Dilla
  • 2009: "Slow Down", Chiddy Bang
  • 2010: "Philadelphia Born and Raised", Meek Mill
  • 2010: "Ill Street Blues", More Demand 2, STS
  • 2010: "In tha Park", Apollo Kids, Ghostface Killah
  • 2010: "Let Freedom Reign", Let Freedom Reign, Chrisette Michele
  • 2010: "Philly Sh*t Remix, Young Chris, Meek Mill & Eve
  • 2011: "The Masters of Our Fate", Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang, Raekwon
  • 2011: "Too Long", The Greatest Story Never Told, Saigon
  • 2011: "Million Star Motel", Pennies In A Jar, Nikki Jean
  • 2011: "Riot" LA Riot, Thurz
  • 2011: "God Knows Why", Soul is Heavy, Nneka
  • 2011: "Mathematics", The Welcome Mat, OCD: Moosh & Twist
  • 2012: "Living in Bunkers", Drinking From the Sun, Hilltop Hoods
  • 2012: "TNT (Remix)", ¡Mayday!, DJ Khaled, Stevie Stone, Jon Connor & Jay Rock
  • 2012: "Congregation", Talib Kweli, Ab-Soul
  • 2013: "Art Imitates Life", Gravitas, Talib Kweli, Rah Digga
  • 2013: "Try Again", Black on Blonde, K-os
  • 2013: "Bird's Eye View", Extended Play, Statik Selektah, Raekwon & Joey Bada$$
  • 2013: "Thought Process", The Piece Maker 3: Return of the 50 MC's, Tony Touch
  • 2013: "Codes and Cab Fare", No Poison No Paradise, Black Milk
  • 2014: "Rapid Eye Movement", PTSD, Pharoahe Monch
  • 2014: "The Imperial", What Goes Around, Statik Selektah, Action Bronson & Royce da 5'9"
  • 2015: "Money Makes Us Happy", Music for My Friends, Skyzoo & Bilal
  • 2015: "Immortals (Remix)", Make America Psycho Again, Fall Out Boy
  • 2015: "Extradite", Shadow of a Doubt, Freddie Gibbs
  • 2015: "Wishin' II", PRhyme (Deluxe Version), PRhyme (Royce da 5'9" & DJ Premier)
  • 2016: "Rise Up", Street Fighter V, Del the Funky Homosapien, Murs & Fashawn
  • 2016: "Making A Murderer", featuring Styles P produced by 9th Wonder
  • 2017: "America", Everybody, Logic featuring Black Thought, Chuck D, Big Lenbo and No I.D.
  • 2017: "Who Want It," The God Box, David Banner and Watch the Duck


  • Bamboozled (2000)
  • Brooklyn Babylon (2001)
  • Perfume (2001)
  • Brown Sugar (2002)
  • Love Rome (2004)
  • Explicit IIIs (2008)
  • Night Catches Us (2010)
  • On the Inside (2011)
  • Yelling to the Sky (2011)
  • Get On Up (2014)
  • Stealing Cars (2015)
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