Tariq Luqmaan Trotter, aka Black Thought, is the lead MC and co-founder of the legendary Roots. If you don’t know who the Roots are, what the fuck are you even doing? Even if you don’t like rap, they’re the motherfucking backing band for the giggle-junkie Jimmy Fallon. Things Fall Apart, released back in ’99, changed the game forever. It’s a classic. It’s wisdom and movement in sound.
These days most motherfuckers like to chase after production. A thick beat gets the Grammys while slick lines push you out of the limelight. And I get it. Being a true rap fan is difficult. Shit takes practice. It’s easier to drop that ass and shake that shit than it is to read. Oh ya, that’s right. I read lyrics, motherfucker. I’m not afraid to admit it. I chew over those words like their syllables are made of caramel candy. In my view, the beat gets you through the door; the lyrics make you stay. And with 9th wonder working the door to this album, you’ll be trying to pay off the bouncer to get in.
What makes you stay? First off, Tariq’s voice is like warm bassy butter. It doesn’t need to yell in your fucking ear to be heard. The rhyming scheme on this shit is top fucking notch often using multiple rhymes within one phrase, “I’m electrical voltage not the regular dosage. Too obsessive compulsive I’m fuckin’ explosive.” But, when on one the track titles is, “Dostoyevsky” you know you’re in for some thick fucking intellectualism.
Examples of Tariq’s thick fucking brainpower are easy to find. In the first song alone there are references to: “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf” by Ntozake Shange; activist Cesar Chavez; painter Kerry James Marshall; photographer Carrie Mae Weems; musicians Ike & Tina Turner, Donny Hathaway, Sarah Vaughan, and Tom Browne; poet John Donne; and survivor of the Stoneman High School shooting Emma González. The sample on “9th vs. Thought”, comes from a 1975 public lecture from the fucking Nobel laureate of literature Toni Morrison (you can listen to the full lecture here). If you dig enough into this album, by the time you’re done listening to it you’ll be a better person. How fucking cool is that?
Tariq isn’t going to explain shit about his lyrics, or as he says, “Explaining is changing apples to applesauce.” He understands the enjoyment of rap is getting deep into this shit. If you’re still new to rap this shit is good to check out. Not only are you in the trusted hands of a master, but this album sits at an easy-to-digest five tracks (officially it’s an E.P.). It’s like getting a small puzzle from a master puzzle maker. It’s still hard as fuck to put together, but at least these apples are bite-sized.