title1

The Conversation: Black Thought & Questlove Talk Beginnings, Most Underrated MC Title

What did you see in each other to make you want to work together in school? How did you know, like, we need to do something?

Questlove: Umm, I think we were in lunch period. And I forget the kid. I don’t know if I was the makeshift default lunch-table-banger-guy or whatever. But whatever the case was, Tarik had an uncanny ability to sort of freestyle and play the dozens at the same time. So… I happened to be walkin by when he was battling this other art student. But the thing that everyone sort of noticed was that he was talking about real time stuff. Like what you were wearing….

In the room at that moment.

QL: Right. Which you can tell when someone is kickin’ a rhyme they wrote last night versus talking about real-time type of things.  That was the first time I ever heard someone just be that bold and start to do what we now know as “freestyling.”

So then I believe the January after that Christmas of that year, I had gotten a Casio SK-1 keyboard machine, which had a sampler in it.  Pretty much the Stevie Wonder episode of The Cosby Show. That pretty much is the beginning of hip hop tool acquirement for most producers that I talk to. Oh, we saw the Stevie Wonder episode… we had to have that sampler.

It was that show that did it?

QL: Pretty much. Cause we had never seen anything like that in our lives. Like, that’s how music gets made? So once we got that type of situation going down, I brought my sampler to school. The only thing was that the lunchroom was on the 6th floor and my drums were on the first floor. So he would start ordering custom breakbeats—“Like, yo, run downstairs and make ‘Top Billin’ real quick.” And like a dummy I’d have to run to the basement, do something, and then run back up. That’s pretty much how we started, by default.

With the blending that goes on with the Roots, sometimes I think Black Thought’s greatness gets a bit less attention than it could have. The phrase “most under-rated” gets thrown around a lot. Would you agree?

QL: Definitely. Unfortunately what becomes the focus point of hip hop success is how outlandish you are as far as being a caricature, or one-dimensional. A lot of people that are considered top of their game right now in hip hop, it’s pretty much basically because they represent a life that you aspire to. Most of the people that are winning right now are winning because hip-hop is more aspirational.

But when he does it, it’s a sport. It’s an art form. Which, you know, really does bring it home, naming our fourth album Things Fall Apart. Primarily based on the narrative of the book from which it came [Chinua Achebe’s 1958 novel]… The story of a very skilled warrior [who was] constantly up in arms and battling, only to come back to his homeland that taught him these skills, and to find out that, you know, the missionaries have taken over and changed the religion. Life is just different as you know it. Where do you fit in? I don’t think it’s lost that that parallels of our life right now.

BT: A lot of what emceeing has become—like what it has grown to be about—is a lot of artists focusing on the fame aspect. Focusing on living out loud and being in the spotlight. And doing a bunch of interviews, taking thousands of pictures. Just kinda saturating the market with your presence. Not necessarily with your musical presence, but just like with your image. It’s all about I , I , I. And I’m just a super, super private person. You know? What I like least about my job is that fact that people might recognize me. Or that I have to take picture and do interviews and shit like that. So it’s not like I’ve shot myself in the foot, but it’s kinda like a gift and a curse… It’s like a double-edged sword.

You said “I’m an icon when I let my light shine” on “The Fire” from the new album.

BT: Yeah, no doubt. 

That line really stuck with me, cause it’s almost like you’re telling yourself “Let it shine, don’t hold back.”

BT: Yeah. There’s a poet, name’s Marian Williamson. She wrote this poem about “Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate… But it’s that we are great beyond measure.” And I feel like that could be applied to life in a lot of different situations. I incorporated it into my wedding vows when I got married—that poem. I really feel like it speaks to me.  It’s not about stardom for me. I don’t enjoy being a star. I’m not on a quest for popularity, which is what a lot of artists kinda thrive on. For me it’s more about the skill and just being content and knowing that I’m still credible. I’m still like, you know, one of the greats. I don’t need to have a jacket that says, “Yo, I’m one of the greats.” People whose opinion matters to me, they know. And they kind of express it. You know I’m sayin? And I appreciate it even more just on the low. That’s why ?uestlove is the spearhead for the Roots—not me, who’s the voice. I’m weird in that way. That’s just how I am.

So how do you measure success? EPMD said “The proof is in the paper / Check the Billboard.” But you all are not known for first-week knocking it out of the box. How do you measure?

From the Web

More on Vibe

Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Rihanna And Twitter CEO Donate $4 Million To Help Domestic Violence Survivors Amid Pandemic

Rihanna and her Clara Lionel Foundation are teaming with Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, to donate a combined $4.2 million to aid domestic violence victims amid the global pandemic.

“We’re joining forces with Twitter/Square CEO @Jack today by co-founding a $4.2 million grant to the Mayors Fund LA to address the current crisis for domestic violence victims in Los Angeles as a result of the COVID-19 Safer at Home Order,” reads a message posted to the Clara Lionel Foundation’s Instagram account on Thursday (April 9).

Dorsey pledged $1 billion towards COVID-19 relief, which he announced earlier in the week. The $4.2 million donation ($2.1 million from Rihanna's foundation and $2.1 million from Dorsey) will provide 10 weeks of support which includes shelter, meals and counseling for domestic violence survivors and their children “at a time when shelter are full and incidents are on the rise.”

Domestic violence rates have spiked around the world amid the coronavirus outbreak. Advocates fear that mandatory stay-at-home orders, loss of employment and economic stress along with school closures and court closures will make it harder for people in abusive relationship to seek assistance.

“For someone in an abusive relationship this is kind of a worst-case scenario,” Alyson Messenger, a managing staff attorney for domestic violence organization, the Jenesse Center, told the Los Angeles Times. “Compound that with the fact that access to service is more difficult than ever.”

In addition to her latest act of generosity, Rih Rih has donated $5 million in COVID-19 relief aid and sent supplies for health care workers in New York. She also sent a ventilator to her father after he contracted the viral disease.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

We're joining forces with Twitter/Square CEO @Jack today by co-funding a $4.2 million grant to the #MayorsFundforLA to address the current crisis for domestic violence victims in Los Angeles as a result of the COVID-19 Safer at Home Order. These funds will provide 10 weeks of support including shelter, meals and counseling for individuals and their children suffering from domestic violence at a time when shelters are full and incidents are on the rise. #startsmall #CLF

A post shared by Clara Lionel Foundation (@claralionelfdn) on Apr 9, 2020 at 2:30pm PDT

Continue Reading
Getty Images

Colin Kaepernick Reportedly Hopes To Join An NFL Team In Time For 2020 Season

Colin Kaepernick is reportedly looking to return to the NFL by the start of the new football season. Kaepernick was trending on Twitter on Thursday (April 9) after a Sports Center parody account tweeted that he inked a one-year $9 million deal with the New York Jets.

The story was fake, but according to TMZ Sports, Kaepernick could be interested in becoming a member of the Jets team. While it’s not clear if the Jets would consider adding Kaepernick to the roster, the website claims that the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback plans to reach out to the Jets and other teams with hopes of getting him back on the field in time for the 2020 NFL season, which begins in September.

The 32-year-old athlete hasn’t played on a team since becoming a free agent in 2017, and devoting much of his time to social activism. In November, Kapernick participated in an ill-fated workout in front of multiple NFL teams.

“I’ve been ready for three years. I’ve been denied for three years,” Kaepernick said at the time. “So we are waiting for the 32 owners, 32 teams and [NFL commissioner] Roger Goodell to stop running. Stop running from the truth, stop running from the people. We are ready to play. We are ready to go anywhere.”

Continue Reading
Getty Images

Usher And Diplo Weigh In On The Weeknd Claiming He Inspired “Climax”

While the internet remains divided over whether or not The Weeknd inspired “Climax,” Usher and the song’s producer, Diplo, are weighing in on the matter.

In response to all the hoopla, Diplo took to Twitter on Thursday (April 9) to confirm The Weeknd’s assertion that his House of Balloon mixtape inspired Usher’s 2012 hit single. “The production on Climax lends itself to House of Balloons era @theweeknd,” tweeted Diplo. “When I heard those early records they blew my mind - soulful in their silences, and a spacey iconic voice that felt uniquely internet. the idea of R&B having dark edges was what I wanted to bring to @usher.”

The Weeknd replied by accusing the media of blowing the story “out of proportion” and noted, “Usher is king and always an inspiration so it was flattering to hear what him and Diplo did on ‘Climax.’”

Of course media blows things out of proportion and takes things out of context. Usher is a King and always an inspiration so it was flattering to hear what him and Diplo did on climax. XO https://t.co/GdLX4xD58a

— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) April 9, 2020

Usher hasn’t directly responded to The Weeknd but he tweeted an analogy for fans to decipher.

Have you ever seen the moon bark back at the dog?

— Usher Raymond IV (@Usher) April 9, 2020

On Wednesday (April 8), the “Don’t Waste My Time” singer took to his Instagram Stories to kick off the #ClimaxChallenge with an acapella performance.

[email protected] joined in on the #ClimaxChallenge on Instagram. But first, let’s hear some of the entries, shall we? 👀👂🏾 pic.twitter.com/B7rEC8j5tQ

— Vibe Magazine (@VibeMagazine) April 9, 2020

The Weeknd made mention of Climax during an interview with Variety magazine where he stated that his House of Balloons mixtape “literally changed the sound of pop music” right before his eye.

“I heard ‘Climax,’ that Usher song, and was like, ‘Holy f**k that’s a Weeknd song,” said the Toronto native. “It was very flattering, and I knew I was doing something right, but I also got angry. But the older I got, I realized it’s a good thing.”

The 2012 Diplo-produced track, which was co-written by Elijah Blake, was the lead single off Usher’s Looking 4 Myself album. When “Climax” first dropped many assumed that song was a sexual reference. Usher later explained that the track was actually a break up story wrapped in a double entendre.

“When you’re in a relationship, or what you figure to be a relationship, and it’s kinda reached the climax of where it could go, you gotta’ let it go if you’re not going to commit,” he shared in an interview with Atlanta’s V103 radio station. “It’s not about sex, it’s about an out of control experience and the person has reached the peak of that experience.”

Continue Reading

Top Stories