Black Thought

BT

If you’re here, reading this interview, I’m going to go ahead and take a wild stab in the dark and say you have a favorite MC. Now, there might be a lot of things to contribute to this person being, in your eyes, the best – they could be a lyrical beast, consistent, have unique style, they might be super original, different than the rest, have an ear for beats, a wild freestyler, etc. Now, if you’re smart, you know that there can only be one, and for my money, that one is Black Thought, MC of the LEGENDARY Roots Crew. This man has been creating the lyrics that make you want to be an MC for 20+ years now, and you would be hard pressed to find someone more thoughtful, lyrical, consistent, creative, original, and emotive. It’s been my dream for as long as I’ve been doing listening to hip hop, and wanting to know more about it, to interview him. Especially given that he doesn’t particularly like interviews, thus does them quite rarely. Well fuck what you heard  dreams do come true, because this is mine. In this interview we cover topics spanning the complicated dynamic of The Roots, Thought’s solo grind, the late, GREAT, J Dilla, and so much more. I know this is a rather lengthy interview, but I promise it is worth every minute you can spare. Enjoy. This. Shit. 

Not that there is anyone out there who doesn’t know, but, you know, tell us anyway. …who are you, where are you from, and tell us a little about what you do, if you would.

I’m Black Thought – from The Roots, from Philadelphia. …and I am a founding member of The Roots, and long time front man. I’m definitely the most elusive member of the band as well. I’m the front man in the studio and on stage, but not in the public eye. I’m not known for doing press or walking the red carpet all crazy. That’s what I do. I do that – we’re the band for The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, I do that, and also act a little bit.

You’re frequently labeled the most underrated/under appreciated rapper of all time – why? …and as you see it, is that a positive or negative label?

I don’t know why that is, and, I don’t really know what that is – you know what I’m saying? I don’t know. If anyone, or anything, is frequently labeled the most underrated whatever the fuck it is, then I guess it’s not underrated. I don’t know that there’s any one of my peers, or – when I say my peers I mean people who do the same thing, who are of the same age, like kind of, from the same graduating class. I don’t think there’s anyone from that group, or from any of the classes that have come since then, newer, younger dudes, that doesn’t recognize me as a force to be reckoned with. So, I don’t know. I’m not underrated, shit. I guess, like I said, I’m more understated than underrated, I guess. I like it that way.

Understated?

Yeah. I still get to live a life, without people going crazy, and not giving me my privacy and shit like that.

What’re you doing right now? …outside of The Roots.

I’m always recording. You know? Side stuff. I’m always recording solo material. So, I’m doing that. I’m always recording with – kind of the same MCs that are featured on The Roots records, we just, we do different material, and we call that the Money Making Jam Boys. I’m always doing shit with them. My acting stuff. In the past – since November, I completed two major motion pictures that I’m kind of excited about. One is coming out, maybe 2015, it’s called Stealing Cars, and the other one is coming out in August. It’s called Get On Up, it’s a James Brown biopic. So, I really enjoy doing that. I enjoy any opportunity to create art in a different medium than my everyday job, which has become being a musician. It’s not that I don’t enjoy making music, but I just don’t enjoy it as much all the time. You know what I’m saying? But I really enjoy acting. So that’s been something I immerse myself in, when time permits. I also have a nonprofit organization, it‘s called the Grass Roots Community Foundation, and we focus on creating a world where at risk, school aged girls grow into healthy women. We just celebrated our fourth anniversary over this past weekend.

Congrats.

Yeah. I do shit like that. This is all stuff I do outside The Roots. I keep busy, I suppose.

Speaking of keeping busy – you’ve got an epically full plate, with Fallon, touring, making music, etc. What’s your biggest focus now, career wise? …and is it what you want it to be?

My biggest focus career wise is, you know, maintenance, or sustainability I guess. You know, we just celebrated the 20th anniversary of the release of – what people consider our second album, which was really our first major release, which is called Do You Want More. We celebrated that records 20th anniversary a couple weeks ago. So, that being said, there aren’t very many people who – in black music or otherwise, but particularly in black music, that have been around and been relevant for as long as The Roots have. So, my focus is just kind of maintaining that presence, and maintaining that relevance, while at the same time doing this prime time television day job kind of thing. Which is, you know, a challenge to say the least.

What’s your opinion of – you can call it black music, you can focus specifically on hip hop, however you want to tailor that.

I mean, hip hop, black music, I feel like they’re both – I mean hip hop. I don’t know. Hip hop as I know it is long gone. Is dead. You know? It’s been dead. …and black music is kind of going down that same road. The only thing that kind of still exists is niche artists – people who have created their own lane. You know, totally independent of whatever the current trends are. People who are kind of known for a thing – whatever their thing is, that they do, and they continue to do it. That’s kind of where we fall in. I mean, I don’t know – I don’t feel like there’s much of a scene beyond that. I mean, there’s definitely no sense of community, or – you know what I’m saying? Like any of that. Like the way it used to be in hip hop.

Let’s talk about the progression of The Roots. In your mind, where did you come from, where are you now, and where are you going?

Where The Roots started was, you know, the streets. The streets of Philadelphia, rapping some good ass raps, out on the streets – you know what I’m saying? Yeah. I’ve been around – I mean, I’ve been MCing forever, since I was about 9 years old. I’ve been doing – I think I did my first show, first talent show or whatever, around the age of 10. I think that sounds about right, so, this has been my life – I’ve always been an MC. Had I never become one professionally or successfully, I probably would still have been – this would still be my life. I grew up, and got my bearings, as the young culture of hip hop was doing the same. So, I definitely am hip hop, or, I am what hip hop was.

What we’ve become, is, I don’t know – we’ve managed, somehow, I guess with smoke and mirrors, to become America’s favorite band. You know? Without having to necessarily compromise very much of our integrity, very much of our – what it is that we want to do, or our creativity. All that, and somehow remain, pretty much intact. Yeah, we’ve been doing it for 20 years.

What the future holds? Like, where we’re headed? I mean, who knows. Like, right now, in 4 or 5 days, we’re embarking on a new journey in prime time television, and as much as I would like to think, or I wish I could believe, or some other people might want to believe, or might be under the misconception that what’s taking place is The Late Night Show is moving to a different time slot, that isn’t the case. It’s a totally different thing, moving into The Tonight Show, and the change in the time we’ll air every night. That’s kind of where we’re headed. We’re headed into that – deeper into the depths of Middle America. Deeper into the psyche of that demographic of The Tonight Show, which is definitely different than the demo of Late Night. So, there’s that and – it just presents a challenge. Do you feel comfortable enough to fall back, and rest upon that? Like, okay. We do this TV gig, and that’s it? That’s what we’ve amounted to? No, not at all. Do I feel like I’m done, or mission completed kind of thing? No, not at all. …which is why I’m under the gun as we speak to complete this new album.

I feel like a – we have as much, if not more, at stake now, 5 years later, than we did in February/March of 2009 when were going into the whole Late Night Show. I think the fact that, we were, you know, still a super credible band and still able to tour the world and sell tickets, and move a little bit of units, we put out a record, it was fresher in people’s minds. It was less of a nostalgic memory than it is now. I feel like now we’re getting to point where, some people, what they know us from, is our TV gig. You know what I’m saying? So it’s more import for us to establish that, you know – who we are as musicians, and who I am as a vocalist and an MC. All that. You know what I’m saying? So something balances out the ultra sweetness of this NBC gig. If that makes any sense, shit. It’s like the same challenge, but because it’s been 5 years, and because during that 5 years – I mean, we’ve done, we’ve put out a couple of Grammy nominated albums. A few. We’ve won some awards. We’ve gotten some accolades. But, I feel like you’re only as good as whatever that last thing that you put out, or wrote, or recorded, was, and at this point, it’s been two years. Or, if this record comes out when we project that it will, it will have been 2 years past since the last official Roots album. Not taking into consideration collaborations, or, you know, like, other efforts, where people call upon us to bring something into the picture for their project. So, you know, we’ve got a lot riding on this and I feel like it kind of has to happen now in order to be as effective as it has the potential to be. You know what I’m saying? We really need to ride this wave of interest in the band because of The Tonight Show. …and this, there’s also a little added interest in the promotion of the band that we might be able to get because our record label, Def Jam, this is their 30th anniversary. So, you know, they’re looking for something. A project to champion – and we want to give them that opportunity, and we can’t really do that if the record isn’t done. So, that’s where I’m at with it.

Tell me a little bit about the new record.

In short, the new record is being called And Then You Shoot Your Cousin. It’s like a satirical examination of some of the character types that we see, that are most prevalent, in black culture, I guess. Actually, more – it’s a satirical examination of the dysfunctional – some of the dysfunctional character types that we see in the hip hop genre. Something like that. It’s called And Then You Shoot Your Cousin, and it’s a dense journey that spans very many years. It transcends the origin of African America, up until modern day.

When do you hope that’s going to come out?

I think it’s going to come out in May. Something like that.

What’s the group dynamic within the legendary roots crew?

You mean like in the studio? Or on the stage? Or on TV? There’s kind of 3 different incarnations of The Roots that you deal with. On TV there’s – The Roots consists of two keyboard players, a bass player, a guitar guy, a saxophone, trumpet, a sousaphone, and a percussionist and a drummer. …and me, the vocalist.

In the studio The Roots is kind of like, like a different group of musicians. Some other keyboardists, who also work with us sometimes on stage, just not mostly on the Fallon show – but then on stage, yet another incarnation. You always have a – it’s kind of hard to explain the dynamic, but you always have the foundation of The Roots, which is my voice and Questlove’s drums. Depending on what’s needed sonically, we bring in some other musicians sometimes.But the constant, as far as people who are out there and consider themselves members of the band The Roots, there are about 10 of us, right now. Maybe 12 if I consider – take into consideration the 2 horns that are members of The Dap Kings who are now part of our band, moving forward, into The Tonight Show. They’ve only done like 2 test shows with us, but, the saxophone guy and the trumpet guy are both members of Antibalas and The Dap Kings and from Fela! The Musical. They’re from that camp.

…and the recording dynamic?

Well we don’t really record together per se, you know. My manager, Richard Nichols, who also executive produces a lot of The Roots stuff, he works with Greg P.O.R.N., who’s an MC who’s always featured on Roots albums, and Dice Raw, Karl Dice Jenkins, who is just pretty much my writing partner, the three of them collaborate often on music that will become The Roots music before it’s officially Roots music. They’ll collaborate, as far as what their ideas are, for beats that may or may not work, and Dice will start coming up with choruses, and he’ll try and come up with a verse of his own, and P.O.R.N. usually comes up with one of the first verses out of our crew that I hear on any of our records. For all intensive purposes, they’re kind of like the – they’re the recording nucleus of The Roots. If we need to outsource a producer, or a musician, to get something right sonically, they’re kind of able to do that before Questlove and I have to approve everything or really come into the picture. Like I said, it’s an ongoing thing – whereas I’ve been working on this album – there’s some stuff that I recorded 6-8 months ago. Some beats that I’ve been listening to, a couple of different arrangements that I’ve been taking under consideration for the past year and a half or so. But, these – Rich Nichols, Dice Raw, Greg P.O.R.N., they’ve been actually working on this album for 3 years. It’s just weird. It’s a weird, dysfunctional – we’re like dysfunction junction. …but it works out in the end, kind of thing.

You and Questlove seem like polar opposites. …is that why things between you two have worked for so long?

It very well may be. Like, it’s possible. That might be the reason why it’s worked for so long. Yeah, our personalities are just polar opposites. You know? I have – I deal a lot with – I tend to surround myself with a tight circle of friends and/or family, and, that’s kind of how I move. I don’t really, you know, I don’t really make too many new friends. But the people who are my friends have been around almost as long as The Roots has been around, you know? I hang out with, either my blood relatives or my people that I’ve known since high school, type shit. You know? We definitely ride for one another. Amir, he doesn’t have that, and he’s not really interested in having that, so, he kind of prides himself on the work being his friend. You know what I mean? Him really, truly being married to his job, and married to the music, you know? My friends are my friends and my marriage is my marriage. I kind of compartmentalize all of that shit, and try and do both – do it all. I’m well aware that there’s a huge amount of sacrifice that comes into play when you want to be as well known as a Questlove. You know what I’m saying? I’m just not willing to make all of that sacrifice, you know – to be well known.

So I’m good with the fame, I’m good with the stardom, and all that. I hate taking pictures, I hate being out in public, I don’t like being around new people. …and I mean, neither does Questlove really. But, he’s just willing to do it because it’s necessary in order for him to continue, and to, I guess, move further along this road of, whatever this road is that he’s moving along. You know what I’m saying? In 2013 he was Time’s ‘Coolest Dude’. Questlove. …and that’s not something I would wish upon myself, you know? It’s really weird, the dynamic, you know what I’m saying? Our – the fact that we’re just totally different types of people, and run with totally different groups of people, and – once we were successful enough to have different – separate tour buses, we toured, pretty much, with totally different groups of people. We would see each other at the venue, maybe checking into the hotel sometimes, but, that’s pretty much it. We kind of stay out of each other’s way. There’s definitely a – we love each other like brothers. We’ve been together since 1987 doing this same shit, so.

Looking back, if you could have done something differently with regards to your music career, what would you change?

Looking back, I mean, there have been a few points at which, in my career, I have been really close to putting out this music that kind of represents my own ideas. Like, you know, Black Thought solo material. Not me with another group. Not me collaborating with this DJ, or me and this producer putting out this thing that we’re calling it, this thing – you know what I’m saying? If I had my whole career to do over again, I would definitely put some of that shit out. I mean, right now, I have to do – I have to take into consideration the greater good. …and what we all have on the line, in the name of this brand that we call The Roots. So, The Roots is kind of first and foremost, and it continues to be so. Like, yo, there’s a really good song that me and one of The Roots keyboardists – a producer named Ray Angry, and my man Raheem DeVaughn, that we came up with about this time last year. It was going to be for a record called “The Talented Mr. Trotter”, and, you know, today, that song is a record on The Roots album And Then You Shoot Your Cousin. …and I don’t feel no kind of way about that shit. It’s like, to me, they’re interchangeable, but it means something different to the people when you say, “this is The Roots” “this is not The Roots” “this is Black Thought” “this is Jam Boys” “this is Tariq Trotter” – you know what I mean? When they have a definitive separation of church and state, I guess it’s easier for them to digest. It’s all the same shit to me. It’s my music – it’s feeding my kids, it’s paying my mortgage.

You have a line, “keep the singing man sane for the paying fans”. …talk to me.

What that means is what we’ve been talking about this whole interview – you know. I think what came before that was a reference to Def Jam and that was very much representative of where we were in our relationship when we were – during the recording process of that particular record. I mean, it’s a everyday struggle. The singing man is me, and the other guys that I work with. It’s a thin line between genius and insanity, so, you know, it’s kind of the whole idea of the show must go on. But at what cost? You know what I’m saying? So hopefully, in a perfect world, the show goes on, and continues at as little of an emotional and spiritual cost to the artist as is possible. So that’s what that shit means.

Who’re you listening to right now?

I don’t really listen to – especially like, when I’m working on a record, I listen to a lot of, in repetition, whatever it is I’m trying to write to. You know, like, morning, noon, and night – every waking moment kind of thing. When I was in Japan and Australia, towards the end of the year, I was listening to a lot of, you know, I call it “turn up” music. I was listening to Rich Homie Quan and Migos. I was fucking with Audio Push. I try, like when I have time, I try and take in whatever is current – what’s poppin’, what cats are doing musically, but it’s not necessarily a trend that I try to follow. You know what I’m saying? I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon, but at the same time, I want to know – not even necessarily what the competition is, but, just what all the other pieces of the mosaic that people are calling contemporary music – the music of today, that my shit is going to be out there being taken into consideration alongside.

What’s your creative process?

The creative process is different for every creation, I suppose. Our last couple records have progressively become more conceptual – you know what I mean? …and this record is heavily conceptual, even though I kind of explained it in a vague, all encompassing kind of way. The record is really about something super specific, and the executive producer, Rich Nichols, he definitely has a specific vision, but – sometimes he’s almost too articulate to articulate it. Like, you know what I’m saying? He’s so well read and so smart, sometimes it’s hard for him to convey what the actual idea is. Like, it’s hard for him to turn that apple into applesauce, so that we can digest it, and then go and work. So, there’s a certain amount of frustration that comes along with trying to find that – like trying to synchronize the shit. Then once you hit a stride, it’s just all about creating these characters that seem real.

My life, right now, I’m coming from Whole Foods, I stopped at the pet store, my family was at the White House all morning, they’re driving back now from DC, that shit – you know, I work on The Tonight Show. It’s not, you know – I could rap about that, but it’s not necessarily what I think people want to hear. So, we create these characters the same way you would create if you were a – if it was a screenplay, or these were characters in a film.  Sometimes, like when you’re doing a film – when you’re creating a character in a film, you have to create a whole back story, even if that back story isn’t going to be part of the film. You’ve got to just convince yourself of its existence just so it feels real and true coming from you. In order to make it real you can’t just make the shit up, so, the process is a whole lot of just soul searching and going through – taking trips down memory lane. Recalling past conversations and relationships, and trying to see who you can base these characters off of. Is it going to be one person? Is it going to be traits of 2 or 3 people together? You know what I’m saying? So there’s that. …and then once you get the dialogue, or an idea for some dialogue, it’s about – it’s the whole submission process, as we were – kind of like the same way that a journalist would. You submit shit to your editor, they edit it, and give it back to you, and tell you, you know, okay, these are my notes.

So that’s kind of what we do in The Roots recording process. For me, I’ve usually been – since I am like the front man for the group, and it’s my voice that kind of represents The Roots, in the past I’ve been that dude that, I could submit shit and be pretty confident that it’s going to be accepted from the gate. You know there aren’t going be that many notes from the editor, so to speak. But this record in particular, some of the stuff that I submitted earlier on was accepted right away. But stuff that I’ve submitted since then, more recently, has just been missing the mark. It might have something to do with, from the top – since January 1st I haven’t been smoking or drinking, and I think sometimes just getting buzzed is where a lot of that shit just comes from. Just being able to relax and not really deal with the stress that I deal with when I’m just totally lucid. So it’s been a challenge. I’ve just, over this past weekend, I’ve kind of hit the stride and I’m at the place that I need to be at, finally. You know I have about a week left before I need to be done with all my shit, so that we can finish mixing and mastering, so, I’m kind of on it, right now.

What brought about the change?

At the top of the year, this is my 3rd year that, at the top of the year I have just decided to go from January to June living really clean, just because of how hard I go normally. So, that kind of works for me. I go from January to June trying to work out and not eat any bullshit, you know – drink a lot of water, and read more. The whole reinvention that takes place – some people call it a cleanse, I mean, I don’t know, it’s just a thing that I go through for half of the year, to prepare me for the second half of the year. We got festivals all summer, we got touring in Europe, birthdays, and holidays, and all sorts of this that you just want to celebrate. So, I’m able to do that because I go hard with the discipline for the first 6 months of the year, you know?

At this point, having being in this game for such a long time, what do you love about it? …and what do you not love about it?

At this point – I mean I don’t know what I love about it. I don’t know. Like, I don’t know. It’s just hard to say. I need – maybe I need to take some time to think about the shit, I can tell you later on, but I don’t know the answer to either of those. Like, what do I love about it or what I don’t love about it. It just – it is what it is, you know? I don’t judge it – you know what I’m saying? I accept it for what it is and I try to find my place and maneuver within that. You know what I’m saying? Get in where I fit in.

Tell me a story about Dilla.

I mean, J Dilla was just – he was like the coolest producer, you know? I mean – and his coolness was not contrived. He was just really like, that dude. He was a musical genius, and he was eccentric in the way that a genius is. But, he was also just amazing. You know? He was a great mind, and I imagine – like, I met Dilla at the legendary Battery Studios back in the day, I think through Q-tip. That’s where A Tribe Called Quest used to record and mix their material, and, you know, a bunch of artists that The Roots looked up to, so that’s, you know, for our first couple records, we sought out those same people, you know what I mean? Your Bob Powers – you know, we wanted to work at Battery Studios. So, when I met Dilla, I imagine it must have been what it felt like for, you know, Hughes to meet Du Bois or some shit. …you know what I’m saying? You kind of just realized that, you know, when you’re in the presence of greatness kind of thing. Or, you know, the presence of potential greatness.

So, I mean, I knew that he was going to be that dude from the first time I met him. The first time I listened to his production, I knew that he was bringing a different sort of sensibility then that which was currently prevalent in hip hop. You know what I mean? So, that being said, yeah – Dilla was just one of my favorite producers. I would go at the top of each year – like, he would put out a new batch of beats that rappers could select from, for him to kind of build upon, and cats could buy these beats to use for their albums. He would do it at the top of the year, sometime between December and January of every year I would go out to Detroit and just, you know, stay in a hotel – like I would sleep in the hotel, but we would really just live in the studio. Sometimes in an actual recording studio, sometimes in Dilla’s mom’s basement, or wherever he was working at the moment. Whatever space he was working in at the moment, and we would just create.

I remember one year we were out there, it was Christmas, no, wait, we were out there from maybe the day after Christmas til New Years, and it was me, it was Common, it was Pete Rock, it was – you know, Questlove was with me. I think Erykah Badu came through at some point. It was just everyone that was an artist and considered themselves close to Dilla, were kind of, around, like during this week or so. It was just really good times man, you know what I’m saying? Baatin was still alive. Proof was around, Proof was still alive. You know, all of these Detroit icons, know what I’m saying? May they rest in POWER, were still with us, and they were all on deck during this time. It was just a beautiful thing, man, hanging out with – these are people that I love. …and it’s not like I got new people that I love now, because they’re gone, you know what I’m saying? It was just crazy – like a crazy energy, man. Just creating, during that time. That’s when he – Dilla came up with the loop that we used for that song Dynamite!.

It was also a bunch of freestyle shit that we would do, and one of the things we did on this New Years Eve was, we just got super drunk, I think Dilla had – somebody had given Jay Dee some champagne flutes, that were like Gucci champagne flutes. So, you know, we had to bless the champagne flutes with the champagne. So every day we would just go buy mad bottles of the Moet and Alize, mix it together, and drink out of these like, fucking, you know, glasses that were fit for a king. …and then create. So, on this particular New Years Eve, I was super smashed. We were beyond smashed, because it was New Years Eve, so, we went into this freestyle over some loop that Questlove and Pete Rock and Dilla were kind of fucking with, and I did this rap that didn’t have any words. Like, I somehow thought to end – you know, like I would do like a bar and a half of, just like scatting kind of gibberish, and then I would like, rhyme the last two or three words. Like, that’s when I would actually say words and shit. I don’t know what I was thinking, or what made me do that shit, but, it’s just a super funny – just a good ass memory of interacting with all those cats that I don’t get to see as often anymore. Stuff like that.

It was another New Years Eve that we did a show – it was The Roots, and Busta Rhymes, and Common, and we were in Chicago, and Jay Dee and all those dudes drove out from Detroit, and we partied in Chicago. You know, like big dogs do. I can’t really speak too much on what took place, but, we would have a lot of fun.

I see.

We would have a lot of fun, man, and, yeah – Karriem Riggins, you know, Houseshoes, all those dudes would be around, would be on deck. The whole Detroit scene has a special place in my heart just because of those years, you know what I’m saying?

Why do you dislike interviews so much?

I’ve often been misquoted, you know? Misrepresented sometimes. But beyond that, I don’t know – it’s talking about a bunch of personal shit to someone you don’t know that well. You know what I mean? It’s just weird. I mean, it’s some people, some journalists, that I know well. Your Dream Hampton’s, or, you know, Toure, Harry Allen, like, you know, I could easily interview with them because I – they’ve kind of been there with me throughout a lot of the shit that we’re even going to talk about, you know what I’m saying? They’ve been around for years, so, in my eyes, journalists, definitely like the three people I just named, are as much family as some of the musicians that I work with. But, you know, just to meet some new person who swears they know some shit – ask you about your whole, your life, and then judge it, pass judgment on that shit, and then write it up with little snide remarks included, I just don’t be feeling it. I don’t feel like its necessary – it’s not something that I need at this point in my career. I haven’t done interviews for this long, I don’t necessarily need to start doing that shit now. You want an interview about The Roots, you want someone to wax poetic, talk to Questlove, shit.

What’s something you’ve always wanted to be asked in an interview but never have been?

Man, there is nothing that I’ve always wanted to be asked in an interview. Like, NOTHING.

You’re no fun.

I know, I’m aware of that though. …hopefully I’m not going to get a bad grade on my report card because of it. When it comes to this shit? I’m not much fun. But just, in life, I’m fun as fuck! I’m funny, I’m fun, you know? But I don’t know that it translates. Especially with how heavy a lot of the music is that we put out, and how heavy a lot of the roles that I play theatrically are – that I have played up until this point theatrically, are. You know what I’m saying? So, if there’s anything that I kind of would want people to know, it’s that I do have a little bit of a range of emotion. …and that I’m not always as serious as I come off. I’ve definitely been able to showcase some of that range on The Late Night Show, but it’s been to an extreme, so then I’ve got to reel in back in, and balance that shit out with the real again. It’s hard. It’s a little dance you’ve got to do.

Tell me a secret.

A secret?!

You heard me.

Everything I’ve told you thus far is a secret. Like, fuck you mean? Like, I don’t know. Other secrets – like, secret secrets remain secrets and shit. I ain’t a snitch. I don’t have secrets just to have them. You know what I’m saying? So it’s a bunch of shit that I’m taking to the grave, but, beyond that, everything that we’ve kind of discussed has been private, personal shit for me.

I will accept that.

Thank you.

What do you want people to know about Black Thought?

I want people to know that I’m a real dude, you know what I’m saying? I’m not one of those people who – I evolve, but I never change. As far as like the whole, “you’re the best rapper”, “do you realize how talented you are?”, “why are you so underrated?” – I do, I realize how talented I am, you know what I’m saying? I’m dope. I like what I do better than what very many other artists try to do. But in that, I don’t feel underrated, like I said. I want people to know, I don’t feel underrated. I feel like, whatever’s my just due – whatever is my recognition, beyond what you already see me blessed with, any other blessings that I’m supposed to get, it gets greater later. Like, I feel like all that shit is – has yet to come. …and if it’s meant to be, then it shall be. As far as being the dopest rapper, everybody knows that shit. I don’t give a fuck. Everybody knows that. All I’ve really cared about, from the gate, is that all the people that I respected, like the MCs that made me want to MC, would accept my – accept me as one of their own and embrace my craft. …and that’s happened. Like, across the board. There’s no one, from old school dudes like Rakim and Slick Rick and Chuck D and Big Daddy Kane and G Rap to new dudes, like the A$AP Mob, and fucking Joey Bada$$. There’s no one that doesn’t give me the respect that I feel like I deserve. So, that’s it. There is nothing more that I could ask for.

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