Black Thought revealed the “inside joke” on The Roots’ song ‘Proceed’
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Black Thought revealed the "inside joke" on The Roots' song 'Proceed'

Black Thought has always been an impactful artist who many consider one of the best lyricists in hip-hop. Although the Philadelphia native is often overlooked and underappreciated, he is both respected and feared for his abilities. 

The emcee (real name Tariq Trotter) made his name as a member of The Roots alongside his friend Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson and is renowned for his lyrical ability and extremely conscious lyrics alongside a very soulful and jazz-inspired type of sonic. 

The power of Black Thought’s pen is unfathomable, and his 2017 Funk Flex freestyle on HOT 97.0 showcased his flawless flow and lyrical versatility. The emcee’s music is extraordinarily Afro-centric and politically insightful.

The Roots released some seminal projects during the 1990s. One of the collective’s most well-known albums is their 1999 LP Things Fall Apart. However, the group’s 1995 major-label debut, Do You Want More?!!!??!, was a highly impactful body of work. 

One of the album’s singles was a song called ‘Proceed’. During an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Trotter spoke about the track’s creation and revealed that the chorus referenced an inside joke the collective had. 

Speaking to the publication about ‘Proceed’ in 2022, Trotter stated, “The chorus was some inside joke. There’s always been lots of running jokes and inside humour in what it is that we do as the Roots. ‘Proceed’ was a chance for us to show our range as musicians.”

As their major label debut, Trotter was keen for him and his friends to stand out with their project, unveiling, “It was something that just felt very different from everything else that was going on out there in the marketplace. But at the same time, it was something that if you were an artist who influenced us and made us want to do what it is that we did, the connection wasn’t lost. It spoke to the commencement of a new beginning.”

Detailing the recording process of Do You Want More?!!!??!, Trotter vividly recalled, “The way we would record a lot of that music earlier on was freestyle. We were in the legendary Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia in a very small room and we were recording onto tape still.”

Trotter continued, “A lot of stuff would just be stream of consciousness. Malik and I would just record it as it came to us; as it was going to tape, we would rap the raps, so to speak. “Proceed” was one of those songs.”

Trotter concluded by speaking about the natural chemistry that existed within the collective, finishing, “It was a really accurate display of Malik’s and my dexterity and our chemistry as MCs and how we had our routine down pat from doing so many live performances. Before we got into our official songs, we would just come out and just start freestyling. “Proceed” represents that chemistry at its best.”

You can listen to ‘Proceed’ in the video below.