The Roots are busy getting avenues named after them, planning a series for Amazon, working on what, a supposed list of 300 songs for their next long-awaited album, gearing up for May’s annual Roots Picnic with Meek Mill at the Mann Center, and – though on COVID-19 hiatus – working with host Jimmy Fallon on NBC’s “The Tonight Show” as the house band.
But, recalling that The Roots’ co-founder and mouthpiece, Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter has been something of a sidekick to Fallon, and has had a side gig in stand-up comic presentation and performance (“Yeah, I sometimes go to comedy clubs and test my skills, do impromptu sets,” he once told me), for the last several years with events at Philly’s Punch Line Comedy Club to show for it, the next item should be absolutely no surprise when it comes to the serious-minded rapper stretching his wings, musically or literature-ly.
Beyond being busy releasing his first scintillating solo EPs (several volumes of his “Streams of Thought” series), Thought is currently engaged in writing music and words for a new play, a musical adaptation of George S. Schuyler’s Harlem Renaissance-era novel, “Black No More,” which is set to premiere this October. Along with that, Black Thought will make his dramatic stage acting debut alongside serious chop-having actors such as co-stars Jennifer Damiano, Brandon Victor Dixon, Tamika Lawrence, and Theo Stockman.
“Black No More” is scheduled to premiere at Pershing Square Signature Center in October 2020 during the New Group Company’s 2020 to 2021 theatrical season. The musical play has, as its director Scott Elliott, iconic choreographer Bill T. Jones and Oscar-nominated screenwriter John Ridley (“12 Years a Slave”), who will adapt Schuyler’s novel for the stage.
Rolling Stone Magazine got a written statement from the New Group’s producers, stating that “Black No More,” has a storyline that goes like this:
“It’s June 1928 in New York City, and Howard University graduate Dr. Junius Crookman promotes a mysterious machine that promises to remove the burden of race from any person of color by turning them white— Crookman’s plan to ‘solve the American race problem.’ Black No More is an examination of race, identity and the very nature of love.”
Can’t wait to see what thought does with that.