When it comes to the topic of contemporary hip-hop, many older MCs have noticed a lack of lyricism and substance regarding the contents of new material. However, one legendary lyricist who thinks differently to most is Black Thought.
Black Thought is an often-overlooked legend who is respected for his lyrical ability and extremely conscious approach to writing alongside a soulful and jazz-inspired soundscape. The rapper is also a known poet, infusing his work with an undeniable literary poise.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, the rapper (real name Tariq Trotter) came to fame as part of The Roots, a hip-hop collective and band formed in the late 1980s by Trotter and his friend Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson. Operating out of Philadelphia, the group made sample-free, original, jazz-inspired rap and are hailed for their fourth album, Things Fall Apart.
In 1995, the group released an epic body of work entitled Do You Want More. Released two years after their independent debut album, Organix, the sophomore project was highlighted in Source magazine as one of the best albums from that year.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Trotter unveiled his favourite Roots track and confirmed that it was from Do You Want More?!!!??! More specifically, the first song, ‘Intro/There’s Something Goin’ On’.
Elaborating on the song’s creation and why it’s his favourite, Trotter told Rolling Stone, “It spoke to the buzz that we had built with Organix and with our early European tour, just going overseas and doing those initial festivals. ‘There’s Something Goin’ On’ could have just as easily been There’s something brewing. There’s something on the horizon.” There was a buzz about this band and about this movement.”
He continued, “There’s something eerie about the musicality of the song, just the classic sound of the Fender Rhodes and electric bass. There’s an old soul, kindred spirit sort of energy that you feel coming on in a wave when you hear that music.”
Explaining how it makes him feel when he hears it, Trotter concluded by stating, “Listening to it recently, I get the same sort of feeling. It moves you in a different way. That was the initial intention. It was intended to bring about some emotion, some anticipation for what was to follow, so it served its purpose in that way. It was a great palate-cleanser to establish our arrival, so to speak.”
Listen to ‘There’s Something Goin’ On’ below.