“This officially a Philly jawn, once again it’s on,” Roots rapper Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter raps on “History Unfolds,” one of nine tracks on his brand new EP, Streams of Thought, Vol. 2.
In 25 years of recording with the Philadelphia hip-hop collective he leads with drummer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Black Thought has never released a full length solo album with his name on it.
That’s still technically true, but this is the second Streams of Thought EP to be unveiled in 2018, and it seems that the South Philly-raised emcee has finally decided to unleash his lyricism in a context separate from that of the group that serves as the house band for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
Perhaps that’s because of the rapturous reception that his extended freestyle performance on New York radio station Hot 97 was greeted with last year.
In any case, Streams of Thought, Vol. 2, which was produced in its entirety with Salaam Remi (known for his work with Amy Winehouse, Nas and Fugees) hits hard from the get go, starting with opening track “Fentanyl,” named after the opiate “that killed Prince and Tom Petty," and keeps it going throughout the 25 minute set.
In so doing, Black Thought serves up an old school rejoinder to the current less verbally adroit mumble-rap generation currently getting over less on what they say and more on what their records sound like. “The art of lyricism is now in its greatest decline,” he told NPR earlier this year. “That’s why, somebody comes out and you drop some bars of substance, it’s like amazing. It’s like a unicorn.”