Black Thought's 10 minutes of fire set the hip-hop world aflame.
Roots rapper Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter was a guest on Funkmaster Flex's radio show on New York station Hot 97 on Thursday. The Philly emcee and coleader of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon house band let loose with an epic freestyle rap rhymed over the beat to Mobb Deep's "The Learning (Burn)" that left all who witnessed it agape.
Yes, he rhymed "sharia law" and "ma cherie amour." It's true, geopolitics and Philadelphia journalism nerds: He name-dropped Henry Kissinger and Buzz Bissinger.
Mass incarceration of African Americans, and the black woman whose cancer cells have been have been enormously important in medical research were discussed in the brilliantly brief line: "We like Henrietta Lacks, we up in cells." And, sorry, Kimye fans, he spoke of his own greatness being on the level of "pre-Kardashian Kanye."
Reaction was over the top, all over Twitter. There's a consensus that Kendrick Lamar is the greatest rapper alive, and there's been a lot of talk of late about the mastery of veteran emcees like Jay-Z and Eminem, whose new album Revival comes out Friday. But on Thursday, after witnessing the staggering breath control and technical facility and quickness of wit, the hip-hop world had to step back and collectively think: "Wait a minute … did we forget about Black Thought?"
Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda went all-caps with fulsome praise, asking the rapper: "WHAT DID YOU DO I'LL BE DISSECTING THIS FOR HOURS," and later retweeted Questlove proclaiming "Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Black Thought." By Thursday night, Diddy had joined in, declaring: "THIS IS THE GREATEST FREESTYLE IN ALL OF HIP-HOP HISTORY!!!!" This gif of Funkmaster Flex's reaction shots is also amusing.
As for Black Thought, he was nonchalant, tweeting: "That verse was just what I had to say at the moment lol." Watch the entire performance below. The Roots' next album, Endgame, is due in 2018.