The Roots’ Questlove and Black Thought Discuss ‘Hamilton’ the Musical

Hamilton the American musical is based on the biography Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. It was conceived in 2013 by composer, rapper, actor and writer Lin-Manuel Miranda, who also plays Alexander Hamilton in the play.


This play combines the historical accounts of founding father and abolitionist Hamilton with modern rap and hip-hop. The Roots’  Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter were recruited to produce the album for the Broadway production.

In an interview with BillBoard, Miranda, Questlove and Black Thought talked about what it was like to work and experience the play.

hamilton-publicQuestlove talks about the diverse cast and the lack of white actors in the play.

“The casting is a bold decision that works, that totally works. I went on a night when Lorne Michaels was in the audience and ­[playwright] Tracy Letts was there and I just kept looking at their faces, and they were so energetic and entertained by it. And I was like, ‘OK, so maybe this isn’t as controversial as I thought it would be.’ From a hip-hop head perspective, it was thumbs up. And then I was wondering: What will a history buff say? Who’s going to snark in The New Yorker and say, ‘You know, this is not at all an authentic portrayal’?”

Hamilton is not the first play Questlove composed music for. In fact, he co-composed the play Fela! in 2009. Hamilton is currently on Broadway.

15 Black Musicians You May Not Have Known Had Their Works Preserved in The Library of Congress

Last week, Lauryn Hill’s 1998 solo album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” was inducted into the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry. The album will be preserved as a piece of American history available for future generations to enjoy. Her album will join many other artists’ and political figures’ speeches and albums. Here is a list of some of the Black artists she will be remembered with.


Sly and the Family Stone

Sly and the Family Stone’s 1969 “Stand!” was one of the most successful albums of the 1960s. The album was a mix of funk and rock that put a stamp on the distinct sound of the late ’60s and 1970s.


Aretha Franklin

Franklin’s 1967 album “Respect” was inducted in 2002. The album features the classic single of the same name.


De La Soul

De La Soul’s 1989 album “3 Feet High and Rising” was included in the registry in 2010. The group was prominent in the 1990s as hip-hop became more mainstream.

The Importance of Knowing How and Why Black History Matters

Before this year, I didn’t like celebrating Black History Month. While I was grateful for the contributions of the Black people who came before me, I didn’t like celebrating Black History Month because I felt like Black history didn’t matter today.

This dislike for Black History Month didn’t come overnight. It started in high school, where I kept hearing and seeing the same old faces being taught. In high school, we had Black History Month assemblies in the gym each year. At first, these were entertaining. By my junior year, I had gotten bored by them. During my senior year, I didn’t go at all.

Another reason I came to dislike Black History Month is because I didn’t see the past contributions of Black people being reflected anywhere in the mainstream media. In fall 2010, I was doing research on the history of rock music for a college paper and was surprised to discover that Black musicians like Chuck Berry and Little Richard had pioneered rock ‘n’ roll.

When I discovered this, I had mixed emotions. On one hand, I was excited to hear Chuck Berry’s music and see old live performances clips on YouTube. On the other hand, I was upset that I hadn’t learned about Black people inventing rock ‘n’ roll in grade school. I was also disappointed because I thought that there weren’t any Black rock musicians today.

Last year, I realized that there were current Black musicians in rock as well as every other genre besides hip-hop, pop, and R&B. Using the site Afropunk to do further research, I discovered hundreds of bands and musicians like Skunk Anansie, Gary Clark Jr., Marian Mereba and more. All these musicians were either independent musicians or not widely known.

At the same time, I was digging deeper into the past and discovering other musicians not in any school textbook. Some examples included Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Nina Simone and Betty Davis. Soon I was able to make connections about who influenced who today and gain an immense appreciation for Black musicians in almost every genre.

In addition to the music, I also discovered Black speculative fiction, a literary genre that comprises Black authors of fantasy, sci-fi, and horror. According to an I09 article, Black speculative fiction has been around since the 19th century. Some current Black speculative fiction authors I have read include Balogun Ojetade, Tananarive Due and N.K. Jemisin.

Read more by Latonya Pennington at Black Girl Nerds