New York, NY – What’s Good with Stretch & Bobbito is having an eventful season 2 thus far, with guests who have included Erykah Badu, Lenny Kravitz, and Rakim. On the latest episode, the incomparable Tariq Trotter — better known as Black Thought — opens up about his music, mental health, and how music saved his life.
Trotter, as Bobbito pointed out in his introduction, is an alumnus of the iconic Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show on Columbia University’s WKCR.
“Seeing the success that Black Thought has had warms my heart in a way that is unique because he’s really the embodiment of the culture,” he notes.
As the conversation steered toward the journey through Trotter’s traumatic upbringing, the 46-year-old MC broke down the profoundly negative effect his childhood in Philly has had on his life.
“I suffer from PTSD,” says Trotter. “It manifests itself in different ways at different times. What was normal for me as a child, I’ve grown to understand is not.
“Being exposed to murder and understanding the concept of taking of one’s life. [That’s] what Philadelphia was like when I was growing up.”
He points out that his experience is, unfortunately, a shared one. However, many may not even know how deeply it’s affected them.
“I can’t even articulate the effect that it had on me … it’s an everyday sort of struggle,” he says. “I feel like many of us suffer from undiagnosed mental health issues and traumatic stress issues just based on when (and where) we of grew up.”
Thought, whose parents were both murdered — his father when he was young and his mother in his teens — used his art as a way to help persevere through the darkest time of his life.
“I lost my mom, you know, I felt like the world might end. But [dealing with her loss] made me more determined to sort of make whatever it was that I was going to do pop, you know?
“I didn’t think I was going to become a professional musician really until after I lost my mom,” he explains. “That’s when I decided this is what I want to do … like, this and only this.”
The Roots were, ultimately, more than just a band for Trotter — they were his emotional support system. “I had good friends, and I had a good girlfriend at the time. [Questlove] was there, his family stepped up, you know, my family stepped up and, and we were able to get through it.
“[The Roots] began as a family that grew into a community and, is now sort of an American institution.”
As the interview begins to wrap, he gives an update on the projects in his pipeline.
“More volumes of Streams of Thought are going to be coming out in relatively close sequence. I’ve got some more stuff with 9th as you know, that’s unreleased, and a few other like-minded producers.”
Most intriguing, though, are the left collaborations he has in store. “There’s a couple of curve balls, like total surprises… [that’s] the best stuff.”
Listen to the full interview, above.
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