Questlove and Black Thought are famously known throughout the world for stirring and multicultural beats in their band, The Roots. The bandmates, also known as Ahmir Thompson and Tariq Trotter, adjusted their hours this morning, October 24, to stop by the "Today Show" to talk about their late-night AMC music series, "Hip Hop, The Songs That Shook America."

Musical gratitude

Questlove and Black Thought often provide a musical conduit for soothing the spirit and allowing gratitude to flow during Jimmy Fallon's "Thank You Notes," with frequent commentary by Tariq Trotter, but the serious examination and appreciation of the musical form provided by Trotter and Questlove does more than extol its meaning to their own lives.

It aims to elevate hip-hop to the status of high art.

Through several years, hip hop has come to be reckoned with as "a big moneymaking business" according to Questlove, "but not often seen as high art." After earning appreciation across the music industry with numerous accolades and awards, including Grammys over more than 30 years, the drummer and his lead MC justifiably see themselves as part of the "gatekeepers" for their genre.

Black Thought reiterates that even those stalwarts in the industry or fans who "thought they knew all there is to know about the songs," down to "the DNA" learn something new from the series, and "we learn something new every time we watch" and offer insights.

The upcoming episode of the docu-series explores the Run D.M.C. 1984 breakout, "Rock Box." The song propelled the hip hop into the mainstream with its driving guitar power and the presence of the band itself.

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The same fusion of the rock-rap formula would fly Run D.M.C. to greater heights with their Aerosmith collaboration on "Walk This Way" and on "King of Rock."

A bonus to being broadcast on the AMC channel is that the series honoring hip-hop may reach a broader demographic and an older audience than it might on another channel. Black Thought confesses that back when he was 18, he wasn't giving much credence to what "50-year-old guys" had to say.

The reflection brought a chuckle from Questlove, but Tariq Trotter followed up by saying that "there's something for everyone" in hip hop now. Questlove and Black Thought had different approaches when they met in high school, but bonded over music.

Coming to the same page

Ahmir Thompson and Tariq Trotter had their first encounter in the principal's office of their Philadelphia high school.

The young artists were there for very different reasons. Questlove relates that he was there to get proper identification as a public high school student, while the man who would become known as Black Thought was aiming "to organize a protest or something."

Questlove has always focused on the positive aspects of music, and in high school, "I was the dweeb," he recalls, offering apples to teachers, with Black Thought being "the cool guy." Music united the two quickly, and Questlove and his musical partner both picked Public Enemy’s "Rebel Without a Pause" as the most impactful song personally.

Trotter opted for Big Daddy Kane’s "Raw" as an alternative.

Whether going by their musical identities or real names, and whether playing on "The Tonight Show" as the house band or touring around the world, Questlove sees his many projects as a DJ, with Black Thought, or The Roots as checking off the ultimate "bucket list." The musicians are doing what they love and honoring their musical genre in a fresh light.

"I'm just doing what I used to do for free," Thompson relates. Times have changed, and many people are willing to pay for wisdom and talent.

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