On this day in Hip Hop history: October 3
Today is October 3 – and on this day in hip hop history, two legends celebrate their birthdays, while another legendary album celebrates its anniversary.
On This Day in Hip-Hop History: Black Thought Is Born (1971)
Born Tarik Luqmaan Trotter in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Black thought experienced his first revolution around the Earth on this day in hip-hop history, 1971. His parents, Thomas and Cassandra, were both members of the Nation of Islam – but sadly Thomas was murdered while Tarik was only one year old. Things would only get worse when Trotter went to high school, as his mother also ended up being murdered.
With such an unfavorable start, he could have slipped through the cracks. Instead, in 1987 – when he was 16 – Trotter teamed up with Ahmir Thompson to form a drummer / MC duo. (A third member, Malik Basit – later known as Malik B. – would eventually join the lineup.) Originally named Square roots, the release of their first album Organix in 1993 prompted the collective to change its name to Roots.
Trotter, for his part, became known as Black thought, and Thompson became known as Questlove. While The Roots certainly received their flowers from their hip hop contemporaries, it wasn’t until 2000 that they received their flowers from the mainstream as well. Around this time, The Roots received their first Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for “You Got Me.”
Black Thought’s most recent single was released in August 2020, when it released “Good Morning” starring Pusha T, Swizz Beatz and Killer Mike. That same month and that same year, AllMusic recognized Black Thought as “one of the most talented, incisive and prolific rappers of his time.”
Also on this day: Talib Kweli was born (1975)
On this day in the history of Hip Hop, in 1975, another hip hop legend was born.
Talib Kweli Greene – better known as Talib Kweli – was born that day in Brooklyn, NY, in 1975. Both of Greene’s parents are in education: his mother, Brenda, is a professor at SUNY-Medgar Evers Collge, and his father is an administrator at Adelphi University . Greene’s brother, Jamal, is also in academia; he is best known for his work as a professor of constitutional law at Columbia University, but he got his start in the legal field as a clerk for one of the justices of the Supreme Court.
Kweli first rose to prominence in the rap industry as one half of the duo, Reflection Eternal. (The other half was a producer Hi-Tek.) From 1997 to 2001, he worked on the indie rap scene with Reflection Eternal. But you could say that his real “big break” – at least for the general public – came in 1998, when he teamed up with Mos def (now Yassin Bey) train Black Star.
Although Black Star has only one album to date – the 1998s Mos Def and Talib Kweli are the black star – it is almost universally regarded as one of the best rap albums of all time by music critics. Kweli is also a grassroots activist, who frequently devotes his time and money to organizations like the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, and is known to speak out on causes involving racism and police brutality.
Also on this day: Jedi Mind Tricks Drop ‘Violent By Design’ (2000)
Originally formed by Vinnie Paz and Stoupe the enemy of humanity, Jedi Spirit Tips would continue to add just Allah when they recorded their second studio album. This studio album – which was released on that day in hip hop history – would become known as Violent by design.
Although none of his singles erase any of the Billboard graphics, Violent by design moved 50,000 units in its first week on the shelves. With songs like “Ghengis Khan”, “Retaliation” and the “Heavenly Divine” mentioned above, Violent by design has been praised both by the streets and by critics.
Although it was criticized for its scathing homophobic and explicitly violent lyrics, the album established Jedi Spirit Tips as a collective – and Vinnie Paz, as an individual rapper – as one of the leading creators of taste who was not afraid to shake the table. To date, the two Paz and Stoupe the enemy of humanity are in great demand and sought after in hip hop music.