Black Thought Delves Into His Past, His Present & Life With The Roots On The Champs Podcast

Roots Picnic 2014: Black Thought of The Roots (photographed by Seher Sikandar)

While he's long been a legend for his skills with a mic, Black Thought isn't the most likely interview subject. Tariq Trotter usually saves his best insights for Roots performances and recording sessions, and aside from the occasional Tonight Show sketch is rarely heard beyond that. But Thought opened up in a big way on The Champs podcast this week, talking to hosts Neal Brennan and Moshe Kasher at long length about his childhood, his many years on the road with The Roots, the recent years spent on NBC and more.

"There have been occasions on which I think 'Why did I do this?'" Thought admitted, when asked about The Roots' move to The Late Show and, recently, The Tonight Show. Admitting it's strange that old white ladies now sometimes come up to him and call him by his government name, Tariq still made it to Brennan and Kasher that he's happy with where he's at. "Almost all of me recognizes that I have to make peace with it."

Things got most interesting, though, when the interview became focused on the past, including Tariq's personal history growing up in an Islamic community in Philadelphia, along with the earliest days of his artistic connection to Questlove. We learn that Black Thought's father was murdered when he was less than two years old, and hear that "The arts kind of saved my life." Thought reminisced about early Roots days ("Out of the box it was Ahmir and myself and an upright bass") and how the greatest band in late night basically got its start playing the Philly high school "talent show circuit." The whole interview is a treat--a lengthy self-examination of a life lived inside of hip-hop. It's an absolute must-listen for any and all Roots fans.

You can stream (or download) Black Thought's Champs podcast episode here.