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The Institute of Black Imagination.

34 EpisodesProduced by darioWebsite

Welcome to The Institute of Black Imagination hosted by artist, writer, and brand consultant Dario Calmese. Each week we bring you conversations from The Pool of Black Genius: a collection of iconoclasts at the leading edge of cultural thought and innovation. More than anything, we are here to inspi… read more


E12. The Art of Hip-Hop w. Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter.

Tarik ‘Black Thought’ Trotter on his origin story: “I think often in the case of heroes or of a character, a protagonist who sort of rises to greatness there is some trauma Yeah. And you know my life is was no different.”

Today’s episode is with a man who needs no introduction, but I’m going to introduce him anyway:  Tariq Luqmaan Trotter, better known as Black Thought, lead MC and co-founder of the hip-hop band, The Roots. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Tariq faced some early hardships– losing both of his parents to homicide before the age of 16, but he found his path in the arts, attending Philadelphia’s High School for creative and performing arts, also known as ‘the fame school of Philly’, notable alumni include Boys to Men, Erika Alexander, Leslie Odom Jr., Joey de Francesco, Jasmine Sullivan, and many more. While immersed in this brilliant world of musicianship, Black Thought encountered yet another now-famous alum and co-founder of The Roots, Questlove.

Emerging from the Philly soul scene in the late eighties and early 90s, The Roots created a space for themselves that didn’t exist during that era:  A live, hip hop band. Known for their jazzy and eclectic approach to the genre, their debut album Organix was released and sold independently and were quickly signed to DGC/Geffen. Today, they serve as the house band for the Tonight show, while still touring extensively, and producing projects both collectively and individually, including an upcoming Broadway musical, “Black NO More”, penned by today’s guest, Mr. Trotter.

Here are some highlights…

On His Origin Story: “That's, that's sort of my, my origin story is I am, you know, I grew up in Philadelphia, I lost my father at a very, very young age before I was two years old, and, you know, to murder to homicide in the streets of Philly and I lost my mother to the same at 15 or 16. So, yeah, I feel like that is my origin”

On Trauma being a motivating factor in his life: “It's the ways in which we allow that internalization to, you know, compel us, and sometimes you're compelled to, you know, to quit, or in that pause to, you know, to give up, or sometimes it becomes a huge motivating factor for you. And, in my experience, that's, that's, you know, the purpose that it has served is as a, as a motivator”

On The Notorious Roots Jam Sessions: “I remember John Legend, you know, he was a student at the University of Penn, he would come and, you know, try and get into our jam sessions and would often be turned away, for whatever reason, like, you know, go figure. I wasn't at the door had I been at the door, that would never have been the case, but I know people who remember turning him away, and I feel like that was a motivating factor for him and you know, that that's part of what propelled him to greatness”

Links we mention in the episode:

Tariq's Instagram: @blackthought
Link to "Black No More" info:

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Editorial content provided by Kalimah Small.

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