Black Thought Announces New Autobiography: "The Upcycled Self"

The Roots' Black Thought has announced a new autobiography entitled The Upcycled Self. According to a press release, the book arrives on November 14 via One World. Throughout each chapter, Black Thought recounts moments of tragedy in his childhood, recollections of community and family in his youth and ultimately, finding love, triumph and truth.

The Upcycled Self offers an "unfiltered and unprecedented" account of seminal memories in Black Thought’s cinematic life. Black Thought wasn’t even a year old when his father was killed. In 2017 he told the New York Times he heard his father was a “kind, chivalrous and very respectful” man. At the age of six, he remembers accidentally lighting his Philadelphia apartment on fire as he played with his plastic green Army soldiers. 

Firefighters were able to extinguish the flames, but Thought’s brother Keith, who was 14 at the time, accused them of pocketing jewelry and smashing some family photos. A fight ensued and his brother was arrested, which began a long string of trips to jail.

Meanwhile, Black Thought’s first arrest came at 12 after he was caught tagging a basketball court in a South Philadelphia park. In high school, he started selling crack-cocaine as a means to make money but once his uncles found out, they relocated him to Detroit. 

Back in Philly, his mother Cassandra had developed a crack addiction and had gone missing. A woman matching her description had turned up at one of the morgues and dental records confirmed her identity. She’d been stabbed to death by a 22-year-old Philly man who lived just a few blocks away from her. But he turned his trauma into triumph, launching a music career that will carry him for the rest of his life. 

“I feel like death, loss, tragedy, trauma, in and of itself can serve as something that sort of derails one’s trajectory,” he said in a 2020 interview. “It can serve as almost a brick wall or just a journey that’s almost impossible to continue to traverse. Or, it can add fuel to the fire in that way. In my case, it very much has fueled me. It’s served as my main motivator. Like my motivation is the knowledge and the acknowledgement of the entire story that sort of becomes me. All of the dimensions, all of the nuances and all of the experiences — the good, the bad, and the ugly — from which I’m able to draw to tell these stories essentially go on to mean so much and so many different things to so many different people." 

The Uncycled Self will touch on those experiences and provide another glimpse into what has made Black Thought one of Hip Hop's most prolific MCs. Pre-order here.