Hip-Hop Rap

Classic Non-Album Cuts: Black Thought


Occasionally, it takes time to recognize greatness.

While fanatics of The Roots and hip-hop heads that appreciate lyricism have been touting Black Thought’s extraordinary ability since the mid-’90s, it was lost on much of the general public, either because they only knew the group as a collective or because they simply weren’t aware.

I’ve been fortunate enough to see him perform several times, including a solo performance in 2009 and his “live mixtape” at the 2016 Roots Picnic, and I’m grateful because I know that when I’m an old man telling disinterested youngsters about the things I’ve experienced, Black Thought rocking a microphone – a true master of his craft at the highest level – will be at or near the forefront.

Fortunately, a confluence of events – over twenty years of putting out quality product; the Jimmy Fallon gig; the Hot 97 freestyle – have led many of those that were previously asleep to wake up and realize that Black Thought is an all-time great. He’s also a style icon.

Considering this new attention and appreciation for the man born Tariq Trotter, I felt it was time to give him his own edition of Classic Non-Album Cuts. As always, this is far from a comprehensive list, but I think it will include many stellar performances and appearances that may have been lost of most people.

“It’s Black Thought, for certain I’ma win eventually/This unsung, underrated, underappreciated/The one them underachievers had underestimated”


“The Good, the Bad, and the Desolate” [The Roots] off the High School High soundtrack (1996)

“Burned Hollywood Burned” [The Roots featuring Chuck D & Zach de la Rocha] off the Bamboozled soundtrack (2000)

“Hurricane” [The Roots featuring Black Thought, Common, Dice Raw, Flo Brown, Jazzyfatnastees & Mos Def] off the Hurricane soundtrack (2000)

“Boom!” (Live) [The Roots featuring Big Daddy Kane & Kool G. Rap] off the Dave Chappelle’s Block Party soundtrack (2006)

“It Ain’t Fair” [The Roots featuring Bilal] off the Detroit soundtrack (2017)


“The Show” [The Roots] off In tha Beginning…There Was Rap (1997)

“Live From the Stretch Armstrong Show with your host Bobbito ‘The Barber'” off Lyricist Lounge Volume One (1998)

“Bird’s Eye View” off Statik Selektah’s Extended Play (2013)

“Thought Process” off Tony Touch’s The Piece Maker 3: Return of the 50 MC’s (2013)

“The Imperial” off Statik Selektah’s What Goes Around (2014)


As Featured Artist

“Da Jawn” off Bahamadia’s Kollage (1996)

“Get This Low” off Jedi Mind Tricks’ The Psycho-Social (1997)

“It’s About That Time” off Pete Rock’s Soul Survivor (1998)

“Super Lyrical” off Big Punisher’s Capital Punishment (1998)

“Respiration” [Flying High Remix] off Black Star’s “Respiration” 12″ (1999)

“Listen to This” off Walkin’ Large’s Self (1999) {Suggested by the great Thomas Golianopoulos}

“Network” off The Pharcyde’s Plain Rap (2000)

“Hard Hitters” off Dilated Peoples’ Expansion Team (2001)

“Guerilla Monsoon Rap” off Talib Kweli’s Quality (2002)

“Right Now” off Fort Minor’s The Rising Tied (2005)

“Love Movin'” off J. Dilla’s The Shining (2006)

“My Favorite Mutiny” off The Coup’s Pick a Bigger Weapon (2006)

“Hold Tight” off Skillz’s The Million Dollar Backpack (2008)

“Cause I’m Black” off Styles P’s Super Gangster (Extraordinary Gentleman) (2008)

“Hot Shyt” off Wale’s Back to the Feature mixtape (2009)

“Ill Street Blues” off STS’s Demand More 2 mixtape (2010)

“Philadelphia Born and Raised” off Meek Mill’s Flamers 3: The Wait Is Over mixtape (2010)

“In tha Park” off Ghostface Killah’s Apollo Kids (2010)

“The Masters of Our Fate” off Raekwon’s Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang (2011)

“Too Long” off Saigon’s The Greatest Story Never Told (2011)

“TNT” [Remix] off ¡Mayday!’s Smash and Grab (2012)

“Congregation” off Talib Kweli’ & Z-Trip’s Attack the Block (2012)

“Art Imitates Life” off Talib Kweli’s Gravitas (2013)

“Rapid Eye Movement” off Pharoahe Monch’s PTSD (2014)

“Money Makes Us Happy” off Skyzoo’s Music for My Friends (2015)

“Extradite” off Freddie Gibbs’s Shadow of a Doubt (2015)

“Wishin’ II” off PRhyme’s PRhyme [Deluxe Version] (2015)

“Nobody” off Rapsody’s Laila’s Wisdom (2017)

“America” off Logic’s Everybody (2017)

Randoms and Unreleased

“Philly Live” (featuring Kobe Bryant, Beanie Sigel & Broady Boy)

“Reality Check” (featuring J. Dilla)

Tour Bus Freestyle Battle vs. Skillz

BET Cypher (featuring Mos Def & Eminem) (2009)

“Philly Shit” [Remix] (featuring Young Chris, Meek Mill & Eve) (2010)

Town Hall Freestyle (2014)

Rage Is Back” Freestyle (2013)

“Couldn’t Tell” (2015)

“Making a Murderer” (featuring Styles P) (2016)

“Rise Up” featuring Del the Funky Homosapien, Murs & Fashawn) (2016)

Sway in the Morning Freestyle (featuring Method Man) (2017)

Hot 97 Freestyle (2017)

Bonus: Black Thought’s guest appearance following the Hot 97 freestyle:

All entries in the Classic Non-Album Cuts series:

The LOX | Wu-Tang Clan | Eminem | The Notorious B.I.G. | Ice Cube | André 3000 | 2Pac | Dr. Dre | Nas | Jay-Z | Kendrick Lamar | Tha Dogg Pound | Scarface Canibus | Nate Dogg | Black Thought

Christopher Pierznik’s nine books are available in paperback and Kindle. Check out more of his writing at MediumHis work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business InsiderThe CauldronMedium, Fatherly, Hip Hop Golden Age, and many more. Subscribe to his monthly newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.


By Christopher Pierznik

Christopher Pierznik is the author of 9 books and has contributed to numerous websites on a variety of topics including music, sports, movies, TV, personal finance, and life. He works in corporate finance and lives in northern New Jersey with his family. His dream is to one day be a member of the Wu-Tang Clan.

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