Tag: Black Thought

  • The Roots

    That a band as prolific as the Roots find time to put out yet another album while playing regularly as the backing on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon would be laudable, so the fact that these albums continue to push the boundaries of hip-hop, rock, and jazz is practically icing on the cake. This week, […]

  • Strained Vibes, Excellent Scenario in Beats, Rhymes & Life

    So much petty drama has clouded the release of Michael Rapaport’s A Tribe Called Quest documentary. One version of the backstory casts the first-time director as a doofus actor wannabe (arguably best known for his role as Phoebe’s boyfriend in Friends) who persuades the seminal, but privately splintered, hip-hop crew to participate in a consummate […]


    Few acts in the hip-hop game have stayed the course, whereas Philly’s Roots, led by Black Thought and Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson, not only seek to trump the poor record of their competitors but also advocate for black artists’ true consciousness and semblance of liberation. The Roots’ recent Rising Down is an uncompromising take on minstrelsy […]


    Thankfully, the Roots put on a very atypical hip-hop show: Long praised as the genre’s best live band, the six-member crew includes Kamal on keyboards, Hub on bass, F. Knuckles on percussion, Capt. Kirk on guitar, ?uestlove on drums, and Black Thought on vocals. As the best thing to come out of Philly since cheesesteak, […]

  • Blood at the Roots

    The problem with the Roots is that they’re too normal for hip-hop. Take lead MC Black Thought for instance: Sober and stealthy, the self-proclaimed Bad Lieutenant, residing between South Philly and Love Jones, is a slap in the face to every well- intentioned gangsta fetishist. He’s never bloviated at length about his hard-knock life, and […]

  • Off Balance

    Ovid got it wrong about Icarus. When the Roman poet immortalized the boy who flew too high, he meant to offer a cautionary tale against hubris. Generations have since assumed that Icarus fucked up by reaching too far, yet his fall became legend. No one paints frescoes about the flight of Daedalus, but his prodigal […]

  • Nicebreaker

    “Something in the Way of Things (In Town),” besides bad memory block, is the last song on the Roots’ best album yet. For seven minutes, Amiri Baraka sees ice picks, a blackbird with its ass on fire, and—like anybody with three eyes—too much of door-darkener #1 Skully D, a/k/a/ Death himself, whether as a hood […]

  • Booger High

    The Sheila Divine’s “Hum” wins for Best Song With Worst Title. Starts out like some humbly hummable descendant of Nilsson, or some forgotten single (or twelve) on Stiff, or Third Eye Blind. Then the singer’s third eye appears, buggin on a rhino horn, but the pressure continues—he’s honk/rasping “Oi don’t make tha laws,” or “God […]

  • Love Jones

    Used to be, a hiphop love song was something like Rakim’s “Mahogany” or Shallah Raekwon’s “Ice Cream”— tunes celebrating shorties from around the way; hardrocks need love too. These days, hiphop love songs are more like Common’s “I Used To Love H.E.R.” and “Act Too (the Love of My Life),” from the Roots’ latest, Things […]

  • A Bulgar Display

    Time was when a crowd of people circle dancing at 2 a.m., guzzling slivovitz, and showering greenbacks on a clarinetist would not have occasioned comment on Delancey Street. My ancestors did it. The five bucks Tonic charged for the slivovitz (blech!) was for them a week’s take wielding scissors. So it was déjà vu, but […]