Black Thought’s Freestyle And What It Means For Hip-Hop And Black Lives Matter

Black Thought appeared on Hot 97 with Funkmaster Flex and recited one of the best rap performances in recent times. If you haven’t heard it yet, check it out here:

I’m a longtime fan so I come from a history of listening to and studying his rhymes for quite some time. As a matter of fact, my crew the Sungod Foundation at Rust College in Holly Springs, MS used to go crazy when a new Roots video was released. We would hurriedly go purchase their latest release when it came out. We knew early on that Black Thought was someone special and was one of the best back then. That was the early 90s.

Back to Black Thought’s epic verse:

Someone here on Facebook commented on how long his verse was. I can understand that. My respect for Black Thought’s verse is not how long it was, but what he had to say within those incredible lines. What I am proud of and excited for is that Thought kept his lyrics revolutionary. Despite his gig with The Roots as the house band on a late night show, he’s still talking about Nat Turner and the red, black, and green flag. He’s educating young people and showing us that he’s still the conscious lyricist that we need to keep us ready for the fight that’s ahead of us, especially during Trump’s presidency. He even said that he “wished Obama had four more years.”

This piece may only appeal to rap purists. I’m looking at how Black Thought used his words and where and when he chooses to rhyme. He is super-focused, sharp, and has a battle-type hunger when he flows. He mentions the young and the old as he drops and drops. New people will learn of his legendary status and people like me who knew about him will love he is getting the credit he deserves and be happy for organic hip-hop music. Hip-hop needs to know that there are lyricists, poets like Black Thought still around and are the people who make up the backbone of rap music. Black Thought is only the reincarnation of Kool G. Rap and Big Daddy Kane. He’s done impressions on these supreme MCs on an earlier album.

If anything Black Thought has re-energized rap music for the good. He has shared a lyrical lesson that’s a blessing. I know, like myself, other rappers will be studying what he did and stepping our game up or listening and listening to be inspired by Tariq Trotter a.k.a. Black Thought, a Philadelphia-born MC who still stays true to the City of Brotherly Love by mentioning it whenever he gets a chance to. The grittiness of Philadelphia is very evident is his galactic flow.

His verse will change how we look at delivery, breath control, and what it means to be live spitting on a verse that people are anticipating. I ask if you are not aware of what he’s done before, please go listen. I am not at all surprised by what he did because he’s shown that ability in recent and early recordings. His verse on Hot 97 is a blue print that MCs will follow in their own way. We will either build on it or use it to better our bars and verses as we write or freestyle. I hope the young people are listening and taking notes. I bet a lot of you are and have. Black Thought is a universal MC who has connected with the young and the elders of the Hip-Hop community. We need an MC, a storyteller, a griot who can bridge our generations to educate, inform, and inspire us. Black Thought has done that with his epic verse.

What I do want to focus on is some of the most revolutionary verses in the freestyle that is helpful to the Black Lives Matter Movement. These in particular, should encourage us to think or act on:

“How much more CB4 can we afford?/
It’s a like a Shariah Law on “My Cheria Amour
How much hypocrisy can people possibly endure?
But ain’t nobody working on a cure…”

These words should not be overlooked. They are some of the most important lines in this rhyme. Black Thought has always been known for writing and reciting rhymes that attacked racism, inequality, and poverty. He should be respected and commended for this. check out his earlier recordings, most of his material has been about bringing attention to the impoverished and the hellish conditions in the streets across the country. He displayed our conditions very well in this verse of his that should stick in the minds of his listeners and his new fans who are unfamiliar with what he’s done thus far.

I’m thankful for what he did. He’s inspired me. I listen to the verse like a sermon, like a meditation. He’s breathed new life into the way I go about looking at lyrics and how an MC recites his verses. He’s encouraged me in that rap music is not dead and creativity still rules in the art form.
It will be so that Black Thought’s freestyle will give birth to new writers, poets, and MCs who want to be the best at what they do and tell the truth no matter how much it hurts.

Ase’! Amen.

Copyright Christopher D. Sims
December 27th, 2017