A Republican candidate for president has a personal problem with The Roots. Ohio Governor John Kasich, who announced his candidacy for the GOP 2016 nomination last week, has gone on record slamming the lyrics of Black Thought, claiming that at one point he put on an album from the Legendary Roots Crew and was “quickly appalled” at what he heard.
Kasich’s 2006 book Stand For Something details the experience. While he was a banking director at Lehman Brothers, Kasich made up his mind to brief and allegedly traumatic encounter with The Roots. Wanting to “give hip-hop a fair shake,” he purchased a Roots album and put it on in the car. “The lyrics just put me over the edge. Every other word…was intended to shock and titillate, for no good reason but to shock and titillate, and I couldn’t listen to it.” In the book, Kasich neglects to mention which Roots album offended him so deeply, but as Think Progress points out, the safe money’s on The Tipping Point, which dropped in 2004. That album, of course, contains a wealth of socially-progressive and empowering lines, including the anti-gun, anti-crime lines of lead-off track “Star.”
It was all too much for Kasich, though, as he shuddered to think at what his wife and daughter might have thought if they heard Black Thought at work. “The language didn’t add anything to the music, or to the message, which I guess is the very definition of gratuitous,” the candidate wrote. “And then I caught myself thinking, What if my wife got in the car and the album happened to still be in my CD changer? How could I ever explain what I was doing buying this stuff? Or, even worse, what if my daughters chanced to hear it?” Kasich pulled over and threw the CD away with an air of self-satisfaction:
“In my own way, I was taking my own little stand, against the societal drift we’ve allowed ourselves to get caught up in, against the meaningless and increasingly offensive drivel that passes for intellectual or creative thought.”
In an interview earlier this year, Black Thought openly discussed The Roots’ current predicament: being almost universally known and adored by TV audiences as The Tonight Show’s band, and yet persistently misunderstood and, at times, ignored when it comes to their own music. Kasich reactions go far beyond simply “not getting it,” however. We’d encourage him to give …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin a fresh-eared shot.