“Don’t judge me,” laughs Roots mic man Black Thought just before breaking into a freestyle that is light years above ninety percent of rhymes currently floating across clubs and airwaves. At the behest of his host at a recent Harvard i-lab Other Side Speaker event, Thought drops a flow that references the obstruction President Obama has faced from congress, the insanity circling the world in the name of religion, the New Jim Crow, and the psychological toll it all takes on black bodies – and that’s just for starters.
This is old-school cypher battle shit, where he seamlessly connects dots between social commentary, political critique, and rugged internal landscapes. You watch and listen as he goes deeper into the zone, and he pulls you alongside him. You feel this as your brain as being fed. This is what hip-hop theorists mean when they underline the connection between the Holy Ghost found in the Black church and the spirit that is caught in a cypher.