Black Thought Reveals His 10-Minute Freestyle Was Off The Top & Kicks Another Verse (Video)

On Thursday, Black Thought unleashed a freestyle that rocked the world. Unlike Eminem’s politically-charged BET Hip Hop Awards Cypher that became world news, Thought’s verse did not have the benefit of being launched on the world’s biggest stage for Hip-Hop. Instead, his freestyle came courtesy of a digital drop by Hot 97’s Funkmaster Flex. Still, by Thursday evening, Black Thought’s other-worldly showing was trending #1 on Twitter.

Despite the hype around the freestyle—Ambrosia For Heads called it the best of the year; Diddy called it the best in Hip-Hop history—it likely still did not do the verse justice. For more than 10 minutes, Tariq Trotter seemed like a man possessed. He ripped through double entendres, relevant cultural references and sharp social commentary, rapping so hard that he was dripping in sweat by the end. Several lines also made it clear that, while Kendrick Lamar, Eminem and others have rightfully received accolades for their prodigious MC skills over the years, Thought is still very much at work.

I’m fresh chopped, A Bevel / Rap on a doctorate level, so eff Scott Fitzgerald / Maybe I’m the new Rakim, maybe I’m fat Pharaoh / Undergarments or armor be my intimate apparel / Pre-Kardashian Kanye, my rhymeplay immaculate / Same cadence as D.O.C. pre-accident / Maybe, my accumen’s on par with Kool G. Rap and them / Give me the proper respect, mothaf*cka, we back again,” rapped Thought. He also added “You seen another rapper cleaner, mami? Probably not / How it feel to be the best that did it, I admit it / I’m visiting from planet Bring-These-Ni**as-Death-In-Minutes,” for good measure.

While Hip-Hop fans have known and recognized Black Thought’s greatness for years, he often still gets the short shrift, rarely being mentioned in conversations about Hip-Hop’s Top 5 dead or alive. This is not because of a lack of skills. Rather, it’s more likely attributable to his having been the consummate team player throughout his career. If JAY-Z is Michael Jordan, Black Thought is Tim Duncan. Both are the best of the best, with eye-popping stats, but their different styles of play draw different types of attention. Black Thought’s infallible dedication to The Roots has lead to one of the most consistent and acclaimed careers in Hip-Hop. He’s toured non-stop for more than two decades, performed with virtually every relevant star in music, been a key contributor in Hamilton, arguably the most acclaimed play in Broadway history, and has a steady gig on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Yet, to an entire generation and swath of the population, he is known as “the rapper in Jimmy Fallon’s band.”

Last night (December 15), Fallon made a concerted effort to change that. After Thought’s show-stopping freestyle, he rightfully was treated like any of Fallon’s other A-list guests, and invited to sit in the chair next to Fallon for a proper interview. After Fallon mentioned how happy he was to have Tariq “on this side,” Thought replied “Yeah, man. Me, too. It’s cool. One step closer to behind the desk.” Over the course of the interview, the two men discussed how Thought and Questlove met, with Tariq and Ahmir both reflecting on a chance encounter in the principal’s office. As Thought recounted the story, he and Quest were there under very different circumstances. “I was either returning from a suspension or about to be suspended, and Ahmir was coming in to bring an apple to the principal.”

The focus of the sit-down, however, was to acknowledge the greatness of Thought’s 10-minute feat with Funkmaster Flex. Perhaps the most mind-blowing aspect of the entire conversation was Thought’s confirmation that the entire verse was, in fact, an off the top freestyle. As he mentioned on Twitter, “That verse was just what I had to say at the moment lol.” In order to show just how effortless it is for him, at the end of their chat, Thought kicked another freestyle (at 7:30), incorporating references from the conversation he and Fallon just had.

At the end of the much shorter verse, Black Thought kicked an insightful line, acknowledging his awareness of his increased status of the moment. “Messages from Manuel and Puff for me / 15 minutes of fame ain’t enough for me.” Indeed.