Tariq Luqmaan Trotter (born October 3, 1971), better known as Black Thought, is an American artist who is the lead MC of the Philadelphia-based hip hop group The Roots, as well as an occasional actor. Black Thought, who co-founded The Roots with drummer Questlove (Ahmir Thompson), is widely lauded for his live performance skills and his complex and politically aware lyrical content.
Black Thought was born Tariq Luqmaan Trotter, to Thomas and Cassandra Trotter, both members of the Nation of Islam who were murdered when Trotter was one and seventeen years old respectively. Trotter attended the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts and Millersville University studying Journalism. In 1987, Trotter became friends with drummer Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and formed a drummer/MC duo performing on the streets of Philadelphia and at talent shows. Trotter would subsequently spend some time as one of two MCs in the group The Square Roots: the other one was Malik B., whom Tariq met in college. In high-school, Black Thought converted to the Islamic sect of The Nation of Gods and Earths.
With the help of the African Ancestry genetic testing, Black Thought learned that he was maternally descended from the Mende People of Sierra Leone and the Mandinka people of Senegal.
The Square Roots renamed themselves the Roots and released its debut album Organix in 1993. The Roots signed to DGC and followed up with Do You Want More?!!!??! in 1995. Recorded without any sampling, the album was more popular among alternative music fans than those of hip hop. Around the release of the album, The Roots performed at the Lollapalooza alternative music festival and Montreux Jazz Festival. Illadelph Halflife, the band's 1996 album, became its first album to chart within the top 40 spots on the Billboard 200 because of the successful single "What They Do".Things Fall Apart followed in 1999, the year the band played at the Woodstock 99 concert.
In 2000, The Roots won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for "You Got Me", with guest performances by Erykah Badu and Eve. The Roots' album Things Fall Apart was nominated for the Best Rap Album award. For Jay-Z's acoustic concert for the television program MTV Unplugged, The Roots provided instrumentals. Succeeding albums were Phrenology (2002), The Tipping Point (2004), Game Theory (2006), Rising Down (2008), How I Got Over (2010), Undun (2011) and ...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin (2014)
Black Thought starred in films such as Bamboozled (2000), Perfume, Love Rome (2001), and Brooklyn Babylon (2001).
Black Thought's numerous musical guest performances include "Pimpas Paradise," by Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley; "Hard Hitters," by Dilated Peoples; "Stolen Moments Part 2," by Common; "X-Ecutioner Style," by Linkin Park; "My Favorite Mutiny," by The Coup; "Right Now," by Fort Minor; and "Rafiki," by Zap Mama.
Black Thought recorded a solo album, to be titled Masterpiece Theatre and released in 2001, but the project was scrapped after he learned that the album would not count toward The Roots' contractual commitments. Most of the songs from the project appeared on The Roots' Phrenology album.
In 2006, he began working on a collaborative project with producer Danger Mouse, titled Dangerous Thoughts. As of December 2011, the album had not been released.
In a June 2008 interview with Brian Kayser of the website HipHopGame, Black Thought spoke of another solo project that was scheduled for release on the Razor and Tie music corporation. He stated that there would be the possibility of Questlove working on production. As of September 2014, neither Black Thought nor the solo album are listed on the Razor & Tie website.
In February 2011, Black Thought, along with 10.Deep and the "Money Making Jam Boys" collective--the latter of which includes Dice Raw, S.T.S., Truck North and P.O.R.N.--released the mixtape The Prestige.
Together with U.K. artist Lotek, Black Thought appeared on the song "Living in Bunkers," by Australian hip hop group Hilltop Hoods, which was released on the Drinking From The Sun album in March 2012. Also in March 2012, Black Thought performed with Nneka and Clef nite at BET 106 and Park. They performed the song "God Knows Why," from the former's album Soul Is Heavy, which they collaborated on.
In early 2013, Black Thought confirmed his continuing work, with Jim James and Tunde Adebimpe, on a solo album entitled Talented Mr. Trotter. At this time, he began work on a memoir with journalist and music critic Jeff Chang, as well as filmmaker Maori Karmael.