We try to come up with all types of reasons to justify why we don’t call Black Thought the best rapper in the world. He didn’t do a solo album (even though he is the primary, and more often than not the only, vocalist on every Roots LP). He doesn’t have enough songs with other top notch emcees (Big Pun? Pharoahe Monche? Talib Kweli? Common? Mos Def? Ghostface Killah?). He doesn’t have a classic album (Things Fall Apart?). But the truth is, our denial of Thought has nothing to do with him and everything to do with us.
For whatever reason, he’s not at the table with the cool kids so we don’t want to sit next to him. We bite our tongues before bringing him up in barbershop conversations even though we know the truth. We prop up lesser artists, and ignore greatness. And still he rhymes. He rhymes like he has something to prove, because he inexplicably still does, and does it with a level of flair, finesse, and technical perfection that has yet to be duplicated elsewhere.
And you don’t have to listen to me, by the way. Just watch the Philadelphia rhyme titan obliterate a beat for three minutes while Questlove mans the ones and twos and tell me I’m wrong.