Black Thought is taking his talents to the theater stage. The lead rapper of Hip-Hop group The Roots will make his Off-Broadway debut in the upcoming musical Black No More. According to the New York Times, the musician, legal name Tariq Trotter, will also be writing the music and lyrics for the play.
“The music transcends genre,” the rapper shared with the Times. “But most of it feels like Black music. I feel like this play, we might be able to break it down and use it as an education in the origins and history of Black music.”
He added, “I felt like we were able to tell the story, and make it in very many ways a period piece—without only writing jazz music.”
Black No More is inspired by George S. Schuyler’s 1931 novel of the same name. The play is written by 12 Years A Slave screenwriter John Ridley. It is described as a “satirical story,” from the Harlem Rennaisance era that finds Black Thought’s character Dr. Junius Crookman as he develops a scientific procedure that turns Black skin white.
“I thought it was mind-blowing,” shared the Philadelphia artist. “I couldn’t believe that something of this caliber of science fiction and wit and just dark humor and something with so many layers was written at the time that it was.”
Jennifer Damiano, Tamika Lawrence, Brandon Victor Dixon, Theo Stockman, Tracy Shayne, and Walter Bobbie have also been cast in the play. Black No More is set to be directed by Scott Elliott, choreographed by Bill T. Jones, and have music supervision, orchestrations, and vocal arrangements by Daryl Waters.
“I’m humbled and honored to formally announce what one day could be considered my life’s work. Black No More, a musical. Book by John Ridley, music and lyrics written by #TariqTrotter, choreographed by Bill T. Jones, directed by Scott Elliott @thenewgroupnyc, and music supervision by Daryl Water,” the “You Got Me” rapper wrote on Instagram.
The caption continued, “This has been years in the making and I’m beyond grateful to be part of a dream team telling this story. This is an entree into a new space for me and hopefully a seat at a new table. I’m excited to see how it’s received. Hope to see you in January.”
The musical was originally scheduled to premiere in October 2020 but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. It will now play a limited engagement, Jan. 11 through Feb. 27, 2022, at the Pershing Square Signature Center, with an opening night scheduled for Feb. 8.