KRONICK: The name Black Thought of The Roots carries a lot of weight. How did you come up
with that name? From Tariq to Black Thought?
TARIQ: I really don't know. I didn't go through some process. It was like more of selectin' it and it
was boilin' down outta these titles or whatever. That shit just came to me. Everybody else called me
Black, so really it was kinda just changin' my name to Thought. Just on some thought- I think deep.
KRONICK: And to follow up on that is my name is Meshack Blaq...
TARIQ: Right, right.
KRONICK: And on one of your albums you say a line where it says somethin' somethin' Meshack
TARIQ: (laughing) Yea, yea!
KRONICK: People always ask me did you give me a shout out?
TARIQ: Oh Word? Yea.
KRONICK: How did you come up with the name The Roots? Cause that's a deep one too.
TARIQ: It's because our music represents the foundation. So we're dealing with the original article
which is The Roots. I mean The Roots is Underground, The Roots is original. Everything that we
are is Roots. We self-surfaced completely, but at the same time we're strong because we're so firmly
into the ground laying our foundation down. But that's over time, feel me? So over time, instead of
kinda growin' more and more into the line of sight or into the public eye, we're growin' more and
more into the Underground. Feel me? Deeper and deeper into The Roots, but at the same time still
buildin' and layin' the same foundation. Where our fan base is definitely increasing and rising and
everything else is rising, just us individually- nobody in our ensemble is really wild outin' on the
scene like that. We're a collective of kind of in-the-cut individuals, you know? So everybody's to
theyself like that and that's The Roots.
KRONICK: At what point did you guys determine that you were gonna take it from the live angle
as opposed to the sampling and workin' with a lotta looped beats?
TARIQ: We never did at no point. That's just how it was in the beginning. That's what people who
became members of the group- that's what they did. If it was just some different Niggas and they
was DJ's then it woulda been two turntables or beats or whatever. But all that shit came madd later
for us. It was just live instrumentation from the gate so that's what we was on. It wasn't any point
when we was like, "Let's be a band" and this an that. It was like I was always rhymin', Ahmir was
always drummin' and this an that, and that's how we just linked up.
KRONICK: Could you speak upon the vibes in the area where you come from? The Illadelph-
some of the things that maybe go into your musical creative process? Some of the energy from the
environment out there?
TARIQ: Philly is just like your regular major city in the United States. You got your schiesty
characters, you got your people that's about somethin', people that's tryin' to leave Philly, you got
your outta towners. On a whole it's just... Like really, at the point when we started doin' our thing it
was a void in Philly with regards to there wasn't really no scene. And now, seein' in recent years its
kind of a resurgence through spoken word poetry and people havin' little shits for that. And Hip Hop
is just crashin' and become more of an outlet for both Poets and Musicians now in the Philly area.
I'm not really home alot, but I know the course of things.
KRONICK: Do you find that in Philly there's a lot of respect for Kulture?
TARIQ: I feel like just a deeper respect and understanding of the Arts is kind of resurging accross
the country, not just in Philly. They're having Spoken Word Poetry everywhere- L.A., Atlanta,
D.C., New York, wherever. It's a sign of the times. That's the type shit that happens at the end of a
decade and definitely at the end of a century. On some shit like that it's just all sorts of shit goin' on
in Philly on that same vibe.
KRONICK: On your albums- the first album I got was the one with Silent Treatment on it. Do You
TARIQ: Oh yea?
KRONICK: When I looked at the numbers on there it started from #18 and went on thru. Then the
next album Illadelph Halflife started from where that left off. A lot of people don't know about the
very first Roots album. Can you shed some light on the Organix?
TARIQ: That album was the first piece that we recorded. We put it out independently on our label
called Remedy Records back then. And uh, it served its purpose when we tried to get a deal and we
was tryin' to get some gigs before we had a major label deal and this and that- it served its purpose.
After we got signed and did some shows and developed a fanbase, it became kind of a collector's
item for people to have that shit. For the most part we pressed that shit up to sell overseas. We had
a sole journey that we pressed that shit up for and it kinda just spilled over from that. So all the
people that became Roots fans and found out that that shit existed after the fact found that this was
something for them to have. Like, "Oh Word! This is why the shit starts from #18". #1-17 on that
[Organix]. For people who don't know, then they'll figure it out later.
KRONICK: From Things Fall Apart backwards!
TARIQ: We'll always just have the option... That's music that we'll always own, so that's the
foundation. Everything is continuin' from that so that shit always comes back to the original art.
KRONICK: One of the first times I had ever seen The Roots was on a videotape of the Montreaux
Jazz Festival. You guys actually blew up overseas in Europe prior to blowing up here, right?
TARIQ: Not really. It's just that it happenned all at once-all at the same time. We ain't Blow Up
nowhere yet. Just everywhere that we have been, we look at the whole world as one audience. Like
the world audience as opposed to United States market, Overseas market and breakin' all that shit
down into regions. It's just music and as far as I'm concerned everybody in the world is gonna hear
everything that I do. That's how you gotta look at it. Everybody might not hear it yet, but you gotta
look at it like the shit gonna be there forever and it's for the world. So you gotta perform and you
gotta cater to every market and shit the same. So it wasn't like we went to Europe and said, "Let's
get established here and then come to the States like we from Europe". Or like how we blew up in
Europe so now, "Y'all are supposed to show us Love". It was just that we had to pay dues over
there and pay dues over here so that people see. You start on a real small scale in Europe playin'
clubs like the size of two of these blocks (pointing to two 6' by 9' concrete slabs on the ground).
Wheras now we can go over there and play to like four or five thousand people. Cause we done
been back and played a little bit larger club, little bit larger, like International locals. Everybody has
seen us like eight, nine, or ten times everywhere from place to place. That's how you make sure you
gonna always have your fans there and always be able to come perform whether you got a new
album out or not.
KRONICK: The last thing is that there's a common misconception among the Hip Hop
Underground fans that people automatically think you guys are pushing Platinum & Gold records,
that you're rich, and you go around the world and stuff. Can you say a few words about the reality
of this Business and the amount of work that actually goes into it.
TARIQ: Man it's a lotta people that shit just jump-off like that for `em from the gate where they're
on some, "Ahhite, Damn I just got a record deal. Somebody write some rhymes for me! What!!
Man my shit went Platinum. Word, I'm fuckin' Double-Platinum travellin' the globe!!" But you
know that shit is ready-made. That shit come from a starter kit right there- you just add water to
that. So that shit can't last. That instant shit, it don't last. You could blow and be on top of the
world, but you don't got no foundation. If you don't got no foundation, shit's just gonna slowly sink
down. Or sometimes swiftly sink down like with some cats. But if you slowly build your shit up and
you make sure your shit is ahhite before you go to the next level- all your shit is solid right here
(pointing to the ground). You mastered this realm (Drawing a sphere around his area), of this small
time; playin' this size venue or makin' this record and livin' offa this amount of income. You master
that shit, then you take it up there (raising his hand to eye level) and your shit'll always rise. So
that's how The Roots get down.