Black Thought Wastes No Time Releasing His Second Solo Album Of 2018
At the top of June, Black Thought released his first ever solo project. Streams Of Thought, Vol. 1 was years in the making for The Roots’ Grammy Award-winning MC. More than two years after Tariq Trotter dropped the 9th Wonder-producer “Making A Murderer” with Styles P, he offered up that song and the other four included in the independent project. The culmination of songs is produced by 9th Wonder and the Soul Council production team, with Jamla Records’ Rapsody also guesting.
Within hours of the release, Thought confirmed that two more projects were on the way, and would not long-term waits either. Today (November 26), the South Philadelphia native drops his second project. Streams Of Thought, Vol. 2: Traxploitation is produced by Salaam Remi (Nas, Amy Winehouse, The Fugees, Miguel). While the first offering was an all-killer-no-filler 17 minutes, the sophomore effort (recorded in Miami over two stays at Remi’s studio complex) in the series contains nine songs across 23 minutes. In addition to singer Reek Ruffin (a Temptations/David Ruffin-inspired alter-ego for Black Thought), Tish Hyman is a guest.
While Salaam Remi is recognized for his songs that have crossed into Pop, he’s a hardcore Hip-Hop Heads. Drums are the thread of his biggest hits, across genre. That is exactly the backbone of “Long Liveth,” a dazzling claim-staking of Black Thought’s greatness.
Black Thought waxes the wordplay as he puts a verbal fence around his place in the game. “Go check the mail then let me know if it’s heads or tails / My ears burn like desert trails and Jezebels / Uh, somebody must be talkin’ ’bout me for carryin’ a big stick and walkin’ loudly / Articles in the Times and the New Yorker ’bout me / My killer instinct is like Orca, probably / I’m a Pulitzer Prize-fighter how I vaporize writers / Shut ’em down at one time, synchronize silence / Make the audience forget you, call it Alzheimer’s / Child rhymers don’t come at the old timers / Whether your fan base is lil’ mamas or Obamas / How you claim to have somethin’ in check with no commas? / You and Mary got the same request, it’s no drama / I’m the pinnacle of language, yes, the Dalai Lama.”
S.O.T.2 does a lot more than celebrate the great. Album opener “Fentanyl” looks at a drug that’s running rampant with compound rhymes, dynamic cadences, and clever references to other Rap lyrics and phrases. “Real drugs do real things / Go to extremes, crash regimes and kill kings / In the last reprieve he still sings / How the task that the master needs reveals wings / And though he has to bleed, it still brings / Him Heaven and Hell, better believe the truth stings / Tyin’ his arm off with violin strings / His eyes and dreams diverted as the siren screams, eternal / Over-dosage is a marketing scheme, that’s just as dark as it seem when it’s a part of your team / With the esteem of a savant, as smart a genius / Vanity carried the dope into the heart of a fiend / Another destroyed life was meant to be more righteous in the face of this full-on opioid crisis / While the wolves pull the wool on and prey on vices / Still the dogs with the hood on, it’s way more frightenin’ / For death, you’re not ready / Trust me, I’m deadly as the Fentanyl that killed Prince and Tom Petty.” In a year that has drug use has been a focal point of the Hip-Hop community through devastating loss and pinnacle awareness in Rap music, Tariq steps into the ring with words that stick.
On “How To Hold A Choppa,” Black Thought’s finds a position at the intersection of discourse surrounding racism and gun control in America. “There’s enemies among us / Essentially, in more than recent memory, they hung us / Public assembly to watch death become us / Better believe it but if not, check the numbers / Gramps told my father they sold his papa for gold and copper / Even though he was the strongest cropper / Now am I wrong if I teach my son to properly hold a choppa / And how to bring down a helicopter? / What’s the concept? / The industrial prison complex / For ni**as in the projects with they eyes shut / That still walk around blind to the conquest / That haven’t really realized what’s the time yet / No due process, the price is no object / When sentences match the crime, they do not yet / It’s been a war on the heavily melanated / For your own security, better be educated.”
Black Thought has always been a songwriter. It’s what’s earned him the Grammy’s, and delivered The Roots’ music to people who may not know that Tariq Trotter is a top-tier MC. However, in a year when projects and songs have trended towards half-long and twice-strong, this collection of two and three-minute quick-strikes is just as impressive. Black Thought makes high-concept songs that aren’t weighty listens, and capture the times, his legacy, and so much more. With a different sound than the first installment, these Streams are both deep and unique.
There are several Black Thought videos, including interviews, available on AFH TV.