EXCLUSIVE – Black Thought has given fans an update on the status of the long-awaited new Roots album, revealing the group have recorded lots of music for it and that it’s “definitely coming.”
Speaking to HipHopDX while promoting his new book, The Upcycled Self: A Memoir on the Art of Becoming Who We Are, the Philly rapper said the decade-long drought the group’s fans have been experiencing is set to come to an end soon

We’re a lot closer to a new Roots album,” he told DX. “What I’ll say — what I always say is: on the day that Questlove decides to say, ‘Hey, the album is done,’ then it’s done. It’s not like we have to get in underway, the ball has been rolling. There are many songs recorded, many verses written, many a production, you know, a couple of the songs are already mixed.

“But yeah, it’s not done until it feels complete and until it speaks to and tells whatever story it is we’re trying to tell. And I think the more time that passes, the more of a gap there is to catch folks up on, and I think there’s something in that, in wanting to just be complete in our return.”

He concluded: “So yeah, the new Roots album is definitely coming. I think you’re gonna likely see a new Black Thought album — or two — before the new Roots album just because those are the records that I have the final say about.”

The follow-up to 2014’s …And Then You Shoot Your Cousinwill be The Roots’ 12th studio album — and 15th overall including their collaborative albums with John Legend, Betty Wright and Elvis Costello. However, it’s not yet known what label the project — which is currently set to be titled End Game — will be released through after the group parted ways with Def Jam Recordings after the release of their last album.

Asked where the group’s forthcoming LP might land, Black Thought told HipHopDX that it comes down to “whatever partnership makes the most sense.

I don’t know [what label it’ll be released through] because we’re free agents,” he said. “It’s the highest bidder at this point. Well, I’m not gonna say highest bidder, but it’s whatever partnership makes the most sense which is a sweet sort of space to occupy.”

He added: “It just feels good to be able to do, you know, what we want and where we want.”

The Roots debuted a new song titled “Misunderstood” featuring Erykah Badu and Tierra Whack late last year on Hot 97. It came one week after Funk Flex challenged the Philadelphia group to end their musical drought.

Questlove posted a video of the veteran New York DJ premiering the track on his Instagram page alongside the caption: “I’ve been waiting for this for 31 years. Since ’92, I’ve been waiting for this … I mean, yeah, they played ‘You Got Me,’ but we’ve never been on Hot 97 like this.”

He added: “I ain’t trying to be dramatic, man, but this has been a year of bucket lists, but no doubt, I made a song that Hot 97 and Funkmaster Flex dropped some bombs on. This is my Christmas gift.”

Elsewhere during the chat with DX, Black Thought (real name Tariq Trotter) explained why he felt now was the right time to release his memoir after over three decades in the game.

“I think now or never; now more than ever,” he said. “I’m at a point in my career and my life and my journey where I don’t have to do anything. Everything that I do is essentially for the love of something, or where there’s an exchange that’s taking place — an exchange of energy.

It’s about engaging in that which you’re gonna ultimately benefit from as much as — that’s art at its best, right? When the artist, the creator gets as much out of it as the beholder, or when you stand to learn as much from the way someone else receives your art, you know? When that teaches you something about yourself, I think that’s dope.”

He went on: “So that’s the space I set an intention to exist within, and that’s sort of where I am at this point in my life, in my career, and that’s why it made sense to tell my story now. Because you spend 30 years — it’s not like I’ve ever done anything differently, right? You just become more eloquent, more articulate, more effective, more efficient; so it’s the same story.

So to arrive at a place where, alright, me telling this same story is now gonna be able to transcend medium and it’s gonna be able to introduce or reintroduce me to new pockets of folks where, again, that same story is gonna give them maybe something new to latch on to then it makes it all worthwhile for me. What I do is specifically for the people.”

You can pick up a copy of The Upcycled Self: A Memoir on the Art of Becoming Who We Are here.

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