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#6 Black Thought


Lyrics 10

“Somebody told me that this planet was small, we used to live on the same building on the same floor” and Black Thought has been in the cut of Hip Hop’s mainstream for almost two decades now. The Legendary Roots Crew have been a staple of Hip Hop since the early 90’s yet too often their front man goes unrecognized as one of the illest MC’s of all time. In fact you can make a case that he’s the greatest lyricist to ever pick up a mic, even more so than the Kendrick, Nas, and Lupe’s of the world, Black Thought might have a mightier pen than all those MC’s put together. His words are incredibly vivid and paint a picture that is often of despair, a portrayal of humanity’s vulnerability that few MC’s have tapped into before.

Delivery 10

"Super fans wanna run up on me sparkin the ground up, you need to fall back, could be NARCs around us, you in a hot area for marchin powder, if you holdin chowder just walk without it, them real crook bothers don't talk about it, they never make a move til they thought shit out kid, I knew a lot of men who did bids for mayhem, they made a lot of money the money never made them." Simply stated Black Thought’s delivery is impeccable, and he can literally rap circles around pretty much anyone. His effortless blend of lyrics and delivery are the prototype for how to spit on a mic, disregarding the element of marketing and commercialism that should always come second to the music itself.

Structure/Songwriting 8

"What's the phrase bygones is bygones, ***** who used to be the underdogs is icons, people say the light shines once in a lifetime, is this midlife kind a crisis a lil bit like mine, I'm thinking not now but right now, I need some kind of shine that the future is bright now, I fuck around Do The Right Thing like Spike now, the Quick and the Dead, which one is my look alike now, I'm moving ahead" The Roots have always had good songs, from Silent Treatment, What They Do, The Hypnotic, Act Too and You Got Me from the early years to The Fire, Now or Never, and The Day in more recent times. The middle years even had smash hits like The Seed 2.0 and Break You Off, along with other classics like Don’t Say Nothin, Don’t Feel Right, and Stay Cool to fill out their catalogue. The last two/three albums have failed to make any legitimate impact however, perhaps abstract to a fault considering their ability to otherwise touch the people.

Content/Meaning 10

“Why is the world ugly if you made it in your image? And why is livin life such a fight to the finish, for such a high percentage, when the sky’s the limit, a second is a minute, every hour’s inifinite” Right on par with lyrics and delivery, the meaning in Black Thought’s words are second to nobody in Hip Hop. One album in particular, How I Got Over, is an absolute masterpiece that should be thought of as a study of the mind, truly representing the psychology that analyzes the human spirit. The Roots have always been consistent with real meaning in their music, and for that reason they are as significant as they come.

Self Made 9

"Hip Hop you the love of my life and that's true... used to hit up every corner store wall for you, we ripped shit and kept it hardcore for you, I remember late nights, steady rocking the mic, Hip Hop you the love of my life." The Legendary Roots Crew true to their name is an ensemble of talent with a wide range of gifted musicians, most notably producer/drummer Questlove who in many respects serves as the real identity to the band, far more noticeable than the MC that’s actually on the microphone. That being said while Black Thought has never released a solo album without his crew behind him, I’d venture to say that has nothing to do with his ability, and if he felt inclined he would work with other talented producers and put out more great music all the same.

Image/Branding 9

“To MC requires skills, I demand some shown” The Roots have always been a complete deviation from the commercialism in Hip Hop, with the iconic What They Do music video quick to come to mind. Yet while always operating under the realm of organic Hip Hop, in recent years they’ve expanded their brand by becoming fixtures on the Tonight Show, with Jimmy Fallon as a host obviously garnering The Roots a certain fanbase that they never had before.

Sales 7

“The principles of true Hip Hop have been forsaken, it’s all contractual and about, money making.” The Roots went Gold a few times in the early years, and even Platinum with their album Things Fall Apart. However in recent times music sales are down for almost every artist, thus in spite of quality music The Roots are in this category as well.

Ability to Rock an Instrumental at a Radio Station 10

"I am Black as a portrait with Diddy, 2pac, and Biggie in, Black as the influence on the culture we living in, I survived the chitterling circuit, vaudeville and then managed to inspire The Beatles, and Bob Dyl’ and them, but did I miss the mark cause I’m just as dark, as John Henrik Clarke’s inner thoughts, at the time of the Harlem Renaissance?...."And it’s too easy. Black Thought can annihilate any instrumental at a radio station or otherwise, but most notably he’s always strapped and can rap on anything on the spot. His BET cyphers come to mind as some of his best moments, with a more recent performance at Harvard University where he spits a verse (mind you a cappella) that is so good it belongs in a museum.

Ability to Fuck Up a Rewind Button 10

“Before I rise and shine like a neon-sign, I need the girl of my dreams to give me Einstein” yes… Black Thought can fuck up your rewind button… and that should be common knowledge by now.

Longevity 10

“You can’t escape the history that you was meant to make” and history they’ve made. The Legendary Roots Crew are as legendary as advertised, and as their business savvy continues to rise while their musicianship stays the same, they’ll be going nowhere anytime soon.

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