Roots Rapper Blazes A Trail Forward, From ‘The Tonight Show’ To Venture Capital


Roots; Venture Capitalist; The Tonight Show; Emcee


Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter is not the type to get nervous.

As the lead emcee for Grammy-winning band The Roots, he’s performed in front of six-figure crowds around the world. The Roots are the house band on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. And he’s from South Philadelphia—so what’s there to fear? Still, he said butterflies hit his stomach last month when the news dropped that he would be joining the three-year-old venture capital firm Impellent Ventures.

“I just wondered how it was going to be received and what the optics would be to folks,” Trotter, a sharp-tongued, gritty and witty lyricist who’s been in the music business for 30 years, told Forbes in a recent interview in New York. “But yeah, I think it was well-received and people realize that this isn’t something that I’m just trying to half-ass.”

Venture capital is new territory for Trotter, 48. He’d never been involved in the space before now, and only started learning about it in the mid-2010s after curiosity sent him to forge relationships on Twitter with high-profile founders and investors. Nevertheless, he’s now relishing his new role at Impellent, and not just for the prospect of big returns. The way he sees it, he can also help be a catalyst for innovation and wealth building by Black entrepreneurs and other underrepresented groups that venture capitalism has largely overlooked.


Jared Council Forbes Staff




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