Black Thought & The Roots Amplify Gary Clark Jr.’s Protest Anthem With A Remix
Everything seems to sound better when Black Thought, Questlove, and The Roots are involved.
In 2019, The Roots, who serve as the house band for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, performed a remixed version of “This Land” alongside Gary Clark Jr. The Austin, Texas native has created a defiant, statement-piece anthem that falls into the canon of modern protest songs.
Recorded at The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the song’s original identity is captured while threaded through the Roots’ patented brand of Hip-Hop-inspired horns and guitar riffs. Questlove’s signature drumming and Captain Kirk’s ferocious strumming are abound on this track. Black Thought also gets busy on the live, remix version. At the top, Tariq Trotter spits, “I’m young, Black, and a legend / And considered a weapon / By some, actually threatened by ones,” ahead of “For the people in denial / The link is in the bio / Objects in the mirror are closer than they might seem / The shadow of doubt disappears at light-speed / Hopes and dreams, crisscrossed into a tight weave / Rope, from trees hanging, since 1619 / Strange, the way the danger could / Inspire major good / I play a power cord, there goes the neighborhood / They after me as if they wanna capture me / They manufactured me to be another casualty.”
Clark Jr. then comes in with his verse, singing, “Paranoid and pissed off / Now that I got the money / Fifty acres and a Model A / Right in the middle of Trump country / I told you, ‘There goes a neighborhood’ / Now Mister Williams ain’t so funny / I see you looking out your window / Can’t wait to call the police on me.” Inspired by “This Land Is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie, Clark has gone on record to talk about how he was inspired by the American classic during an interview with American Songwriter.
“It’s one of the first songs we learn, and we sing it together … It’s like the Pledge of Allegiance … And when you’re kids, everybody’s together. You don’t see differences until you get older, and older people influence you to think about other people a certain way. I just want to get back to singing that song like we were kids again, you?” The Recording Academy has taken notice of this conversation-starting song and has nominated the album, This Land, and its title track for several Grammys at the 2020 awards ceremony, including “Best Rock Performance,” “Best Rock Song,” “Best Music Video,” and “Best Contemporary Blues Album.”
Tomorrow’s (January 26) 62nd annual festivity also announced that The Roots and Gary Clark Jr. will be joined by New Orleans’ Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Trombone Shorty to honor those we’ve lost this year in an “In Memoriam” piece.
New music by Black Thought is presently on the official AFH Playlist.