The Roots Use Ghostface Killah’s Music To Signal Hillary Clinton Is “Mighty Healthy” (Video)

Throughout their tenure on “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” (and previously, “Late Night…”), The Roots have had fun with their musical post. Band leader Questlove, Black Thought, Tuba Gooding, Jr., Captain Kirk Douglas and the rest of the crew have jammed with some incredible musicians, partook in more than a few memorable sketches with Fallon, and used ‘walk-on’ music cleverly.

Last week, as Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump appeared on the show, the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Grammy Award winners played the instrumental to Erykah Badu’s “20 Feet Tall,” a song where she mentions a 20-foot wall, a clear allusion to Trump’s plans to build a wall along the United States and Mexico border.

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Last night (September 19), as Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton appeared on the same NBC 6B Rockefeller Center stage, The Roots signaled her appearance with Ghostface Killah’s “Mighty Healthy” (just before the 12:00 mark of the episode). Black Thought delivered his former Def Jam label-mate’s lyrics. He made one change, “Come and have a good time with Hill-ary,” rapped the MC, in lieu of G.F.K.’s “G-O-D” lyric. That Supreme Clientele allusion appeared to be connected to Clinton’s recovery from reportedly overheating on September 11. At a 9/11 memorial, Hillary was filmed falling during the incident. Last night’s appearance was tied to her health.

“There’s nothing like a little rest when your doctor tells you to and you don’t do it,” the 68 year-old told Fallon, who jokingly wore a mask upon the former Secretary of State’s appearance at his desk. “I’m used to just kind of getting up and powering through it, and that’s what I thought I could do,” Clinton said. “Turned out I couldn’t, so I took a few days off and actually I think it was good.”

Even before the improved late night slot, these nods were part of the band’s repertoire. In November of 2011, The Roots ended up in controversy when they played Fishbone’s “Lyin’ Ass Bitch” instrumental, while US Congresswoman and then-Presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann walked on stage. That incident, amplified by Questlove and other music fans pointing out the connection after the taping, later resulted in public apology by Jimmy Fallon, Roots band-leader Questlove and the network.

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In his book Mo’ Meta Blues (care of an excerpt published at Salon), Quest’ considered his post with Fallon a higher calling in his decorated career.

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The Fallon show is a day job in the best sense. We’re in by noon and gone by seven, and in between we make a show. It’s highly structured, and as a result, the opportunities we have for creativity are really distilled: not reduced at all, but disciplined, forced into existing forms and packages. ‘Freestylin’ with the Roots’ is one of the highlights for us. One of the others is the walkover,” he wrote. Later, he added, “Once upon a time, maybe, it was straightforward, a little musical cue or song associated with the artist. But then came Paul Shaffer’s work on ‘Letterman,’ and the walkover became its own little art form — an obscure musical reference that the audience (and sometimes even the guest) had to decode.” In that account, he recalls nearly being fired by NBC after thousands of callers flooded the switchboards. He also recalls hearing support for Fishbone. Much later, he writes, “In retrospect, I would have chosen Sam Cooke’s ‘What a Wonderful World,’ with its “don’t know much about history” line.