While it isn’t surprising that such an inventive and innovative lyricist would so multi-faceted, up until now Tariq Trotter has always been very private. With his recent foray into the fashion world, however, he is opening up and allowing us a rare glimpse inside.
About halfway through our interview, Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter pauses: “Sorry, I’m in the middle of cooking dinner.” On this particular day, dinner is lobster bisque, Arctic char, and sautéed kale. It is a homemade meal, made entirely from scratch. Apparently, the man can cook.
“Yeah, I’m a foodie. You better ask about me,” he jokes.
This was the first of many things that I learned about co-founder and lead vocalist of the legendary hip-hop group, The Roots (also, the resident house band on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon). While it isn’t surprising that such an inventive and innovative lyricist would be so multi-faceted, up until now Trotter has always been very private. With his recent foray into the fashion world, however, he is opening up and allowing us a rare glimpse inside. Here are a few things that you may not have known about one of your favorite emcees:
1. He’s a visual artist.
Last month, Trotter and Roots drummer Questlove took to the Okayplayer website to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their first major album release, Do You Want More?!!!!??!. Before co-founding the group, the two men met at Philadelphia’s Creative and Performing Arts High School where Questlove was studying music and Trotter, the visual arts. “I’ve spent most of my life as a visual artist. I was inspired by the musicianship that I was immersed in — and I continue to be.”
2. He was a frontrunner to play the lead in a popular Broadway show.
This past September, The Roots rocked the mic as one of the headliners at the charity-focused Global Citizen Festival in Central Park. In addition to an impressive set that showcased Trotter’s considerable talents as an emcee (his rapid-fire delivery had the crowd in a frenzy), the band also performed a song by Afrobeat pioneer, Fela Kuti. Some fans were surprised to hear him belting out tunes. “I’m a vocalist in whatever capacity I’m needed,” he says. “I’m a singer. There are times when I sing; there are times when I rap. And it’s been that way since our first album. Because I’m held in such a high regard as a lyricist, it’s sometimes overlooked that I’m also a singer.”