Black Thought Explains Why He Believes He’s Never Been Better (Video)
Less than one month since it was released, Black Thought’s “Dostoyevsky” shines as a brilliant 2018 Hip-Hop song and the latest great Tariq Trotter and Rapsody collaboration. From The Roots MC’s Streams Of Thought, Vol. 1 EP with 9th Wonder and The Soul Council, the work is on Ambrosia For Heads‘ official playlist (embedded below) and our “Best Of 2018, So Far” list.
“It really started coming together for me during an interview that I was doing with a brother named Barry Micheal Cooper, for the New York Times,” Thought tells Genius‘ “Verified.” “He said, ‘You’re like the Hip-Hop [Fyodor] Dostoevsky.’ So I did a little bit of research, and the truth started come to light. I said, ‘Wow.’ I agreed.” Cooper is also a screenwriter and visionary behind New Jack City, Above The Rim, and Sugar Hill, in addition to years as a journalist, author, and documentarian.
The Roots MC continues, “[Fyodor Dostoevsky] was a philosopher He was an essayist, a novelist. But what he did was he spoke to the social and political, and spiritual struggles of his time in the same way that I do.” He weaves Crime and Punishment into the song lyrics, a deliberate nod to Dostoevsky’s timeless title. Thought explains that he relates to that idea, and feels that the late 2010s will go down as his “finest hour.” With 25 years on wax, that is a bold statement.
In the clip, Thought illustrates how he does just that with his June verse. The MC also shows that as an author in his own right, he spits non-fiction. True to the lyrics, Thought recalls going in with two friends on a mid-’90s Toyota Landcruiser SUV when The Roots got their first taste of paper—”two of [the drivers] were unlicensed and uninsured drivers, and we sort of made it work,” Tariq says with a chuckle.
In another segment of the lyrics, the MC recalls being an 18-year-old college student “at a crossroads” in life. Then at Millersville University in Central Pennsylvania, Thought was eating off of student loan checks. However, he was dropping the same classes the notes were supposed to pay for. “I was living beyond my means, literally,” he recalls. At that crossroads, Tariq and Questlove would dive all-in on The Roots. That decision paid off majorly.
The song lyrics also address Thoughts status. “For years, I’ve been told by lots of people whose opinion I respect, like ‘Yo, you the best.’ But other folks who I run into say, ‘Yo, so how’s it feel to be so underrated?’ I don’t really get that. If so many feel that I’m Top 5, I’m Top 3, I’m Top 10, I’m their #1—which is what I get from the people [everywhere]…so what’s ‘underrated’ mean?” The self-proclaimed O.G. says he stands as a representative for the “elder statesmen” in Hip-Hop. “I’ve earned a lot of stripes. So these grey and white hairs that you see in my beard [and my haircut], all of that—I’ve worked for this. So I definitely embrace it.”
Thought also explains how he sees words as opportunities. When it comes to cadence, the South Philly MC often bends the sounds and structures of words to fit.
The five-song Streams Of Thought, Vol. 1 features Rapsody, Styles P, and KIRBY.
#BonusBeat: Enjoy this song and subscribe to Ambrosia For Heads‘ Spotify playlist: