The multi-talented artist Black Thought recently sat down with AllHipHop.com to discuss his role in the new movie, Yelling To The Sky, starring Zoe Kravitz. This particular interview was an AllHipHop.com first, as we are certain it’s the only time a rapper has ever done an entire interview with us while running on a treadmill! Artists, take note – that’s how you work on breath control for your music!
The always impressive Black Thought talked about the filming of Yelling To The Sky, his secret girlfriend since the ’80s, the upcoming Grammy Awards, and some exclusive details about his other recent projects. Check out AllHipHop.com’s breathtaking chat with Black Thought:
AllHipHop.com: Thanks so much for taking a moment to speak to AllHipHop.com about Yelling To The Sky. Can you give us a little background on the movie?
Black Thought: Yelling To The Sky is a semi-autobiographical coming of age story that takes place in modern-day Queens. New York. It’s loosely based on the life of the writer, producer, and director Victoria Mahoney, who comes from a biracial, Irish and African American family. The character that is based on Victoria is played by Zoe Kravitz. Gabourey Sidibe is also in the film, who you know from Precious. She plays Zoe’s arch nemesis in high school. It starts off with Gabourey as a bully, and then they reach a level playing field, and then the tables kind of turn when Zoe Kravitz kind of becomes the bully or the toughie.
I play a character named Roland, who is like a neighborhood elder statesman/street pharmaceutical salesman. [laughs] There’s very much of a Robin Hood quality to my character. I’m selling what I sell, but I’m also taking care of very many people in the neighborhood. I’m paying for funerals and helping people with their tuition, giving gifts, and that sort of thing. You know, I’m like the black Robin Hood!
AllHipHop.com: [laughs] Wow, OK, so was it really interesting to work with Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet’s daughter?
Black Thought: I mean, it was wonderful. I already had a relationship with Zoe because she was in a band that my manager was working with and that my writing partner was working with for a while; the band was called Elevator Fight, and so she was rockin’ out with us at jam sessions and hanging around in the studio with us in Philly for a couple years before I even knew anything about this movie. And, of course, I already know Lenny from touring together and recording together, and I’ve met Lisa Bonet a couple of times. I mean, I’ve always been a fan, and I’ve kinda always felt like Lisa Bonet has been a girlfriend of mine since I was a young dude! [laughter] In my mind, you know, a young dude watching “The Cosby Show” and “A Different World” and yeah.
On another note, a funny note, years ago when we won our first Grammy Award in 1999, an 11- or 12-year-old Zoe Kravitz was seated right behind us in the theater. I actually used to see her all the time just rollin’ around with her dad, and it’s weird that now she’s an adult and she’s like the little homie. [laughs]
AllHipHop.com: What was it about this role that spoke to you and just made you feel like you had to work on this project?
Black Thought: What spoke to me about the role was just the fact that it was different from any other character that I’ve played so far. I’ve been in a few indie films, maybe eight or nine, but often the character that I’m cast as isn’t that far from removed from who I am in real life. They take like some element of my personality – it might not be like every dimension, but it will be some part of me that is like this person that I’m portraying. It’ll be something about this guy; he’s into music or this guy is from Philly, or he grew up as a Muslim or something that had to do with my real life.
And it’s not that I’ve never done anything illegal in the neighborhood, or that I’ve never held any drugs or anything like that, but I’m not from New York. I just felt like I’m a totally different sort of person in real life from than this character Ro was, so it made me want to rise to the challenge. I don’t know, it was like a no brainer to do this film after I met Victoria and I went to the table read, and I clicked with some of the other cast members, like Antonique Smith. With all parties involved, it was just like a no brainer for me to kind of do.
AllHipHop.com: Nice! And speaking of nice, and going back a moment in regards to the Grammys, there’s another Grammy nod for you guys [for Undun as Best Rap Album]. How are you mentally preparing or getting your mind around being up for another statue situation?
Black Thought: Oh, I mean, it’s cool. When we get a Grammy nomination as The Roots, it’s not even as much preparation that takes place for the awards as for the night before the awards where, almost every year that we’ve been nominated, we do a jam session on the night before the Grammys that people come through. And a lot of the nominees come through and other like-minded individuals that we’ve worked with in the industry, and we just rock out all night for like five or six hours. I don’t know if we’re definitely planning on doing it this year, but since The Roots got the Grammy nod and Jimmy Fallon’s Comedy Album got another nomination, I think we’re definitely going to do that event, so that’s what the preparation goes in to.
AllHipHop.com: Well, we wish you and the other members of The Roots the very best of luck on all of that! We know you’re a super busy man, so we’re going to let you get out of here, but before we do, is there anything else you’d like to let the fans know to be on the look out for?
Black Thought: I have another couple of films in the pipeline, one that’s actually on On Demand out there called On The Inside, where I’m playing a corrections officer at an institution for the criminally insane, directed by DW Brown, who wrote and directed it. Also, check out the trailer for a movie I did last year called Must Be The Music, and it was shot in Philly and this is one of those roles where the guy is very much like me in real life, where this guy is a musician and he has issues with his label, and there are a whole host of characters that everyone is familiar with that are gonna be in the movie. Check out On The Inside. That’s it!
Be sure to check out Black Thought and the rest of the cast of Yelling To The Sky, which can be found on Amazon and other online retailers. Watch the trailer for Must Be The Music below: