Interview – The chemistry between Black Thought and Run The Jewels’ Killer Mike is evident on the Streams of Thought Vol. 3: Cane & Able single “Good Morning.” And according to the Roots frontman, there could be more where that came from.
During a recent interview with HipHopDX, the Philly-bred Hip Hop legend talked about how important it was to have Mike join Pusha T and Swizz Beatz for the song and teased a possible RTJ collaboration in the future. (El-P and Killer Mike dropped their explosive Run The Jewels 4 album in May.)
“It’s huge for me,” he tells DX. “And I feel like it’s been a very long time coming for Mike and I to collaborate in some way on the record. I’ve known him for many years — since he was an upstart on tour with Outkast and Goodie Mob, and he’s always remained the same. He’s always been sort of the same guy — very lovable, a gentle giant and very community-minded, very leadership-oriented and focused and knowledgeable of where the craft of emceeing came from, as well as where he could take it.
“Speaking to those possibilities of the future, I feel like it was always a no-brainer that he and I would work together in some capacity. I can’t believe it’s taken this long, but yeah, it was better late than never and it was definitely a long time coming. I look forward to when he and I get a chance to work together again, I think — and I don’t want to jinx it — but I think Run The Jewels may be jumping on another project that I’ve been cooking. I’m excited about that as well.”
Considering Thought’s confidence when finessing the mic, it’s surprising to learn he’s always struggled with anxiety — primarily when he’s centerstage. But he simply uses it as a challenge.
“It’s an everyday struggle, man,” he admits. “It’s an ongoing thing. I just picked probably the worst career path to take as an introvert, as someone who doesn’t like to be photographed or to really be in the forefront like that. So yeah, it’s been a bit of a challenge, but I’m just always game for that challenge.
“So every concert that I do, every speaking engagement, every photo shoot, every video shoot that I’m able to complete, I feel on a certain level like I conquered it. I’ve conquered my anxiety. It’s almost like I’ve conquered myself and my own demons with every project that I’ve seen through to fruition or able to realize. So that’s a huge part of it for me.”
Despite Thought’s aversion to the spotlight, he still wound up on television as part of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, which he likens to an out-of-body experience.
“Quite honestly, I try to forget the fact that I’m on camera every day, because I’d be too analytical and I think I would just watch the show too closely, and then start judging myself and the band,” he says. “So yes. I do it. It’s almost every day that we shoot the Tonight Show, it’s almost as if I have an out-of-body experience. That’s someone else up there.”
Streams of Thought Vol. 3: Cane & Able was initially expected to arrive in July, but the date was pushed back. Thought did provide a little insight into what to expect from the project. The title alone speaks to mortality and death, something he experienced very early on in his life; both of his parents were murdered when he was a kid.
Thought recently had to face another death when news of Roots’ founding member Malik B’s passing hit the internet, but he finds comfort in knowing people are digging back into the Roots catalog and learning about Malik’s magic.
“It was definitely a huge loss for us all, and it’s sad,” he says. “But definitely through his art, he’s going to live on. We always understand what the universe has in store for us, or for our contribution. We often lose people, and it’s the idea of why this person wasn’t here with us long enough, or they’re gone too soon, but that’s not always the case — whether or not we understand it.
“I feel like through his art, his legacy shall live on. He’s being remembered now. He’s being held up and honored, just in a really beautiful way. We see all the condolences, all the newfound interest and people who are sort of digging back into his catalog and who are just now coming to realize his genius and his brilliance, and who are just now coming to understand all the hidden gems in his lyrics, and the perspective from which he spoke from day one. That alone has been comforting for me.”