Black Thought is the GOAT


Vince Orozco, Managing Editor

With over 30 years of MCing, 14 studio albums with his band The Roots and 2 solo albums, Black Thought is without a doubt one of the greatest, if not the greatest, rappers of all time.

This claim is justified by his technical skill, thoughtful lyrics, and amazing mic-presence.

Black Thought’s technical ability is nearly unmatched. He can rap fast or slow, smooth or off-kilter. He is a very deliberate MC and every verse is crafted to perfection. This is compounded by his outstanding breath control. Black Thought is able to use a technique called circular breathing. This involves storing air in the cheeks and then pushing it out as one inhales through the nose. This technique was demonstrated by his appearance on Funkmaster Flex where he rapped for 10 minutes straight over Mobb Deep’s Burn telling a tale of robberies gone wrong to Shakespearean triumph and tragedy. Additionally, during the writing process, Black Thought includes his breaths specifically as part of the verses. All of this means that Black Thought does not run out of breath when he’s performing or spitting a verse on a talk show — because it is a part of the verse.

Another aspect of Black Thought’s rap utility belt is his razor sharp lyricism. Much like a modern-day Fitzgerald or Melville, Thought is able to weave together stories with poetic elegance and bombastic grandiosity. It is through his amazing range of knowledge and vocabulary, that Thought is able to contribute to the Roots’ respected discography. For albums that require a more Philadelphia slum anthem sound such as Illadelph Halflife or gritty storytelling such as Undun, Black Thought delivers.

Finally, Black Thought demonstrates his GOAT status in his presence. As a rapper of such talent, he has built up a reputation over the years. This reputation as a legendary rapper is unique because while it does carry the usual respect that somebody like Nas or Jay-Z carries, it also carries fear. As stated by produced 9th Wonder, “[Black Thought] is your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper. He’s the favorite rapper that nobody likes to say out loud. It’s just a different air when he walks in the room around rappers. The air changes because everybody knows ‘If I gotta get on a record with this dude, it’s a possibility [that] I’m gonna get chewed.’ I think he’s like a samurai when it comes to that. It’s one thing to be respected, it’s another thing to be respected and also feared.”

In conclusion, Black Thought is simply a force to be reckoned with. And with the recent critically acclaimed releases of Streams of Thought Vol 1 and 2, he has shown that he has plenty left in store.