The Roots have never been known as a combative group. That's not their steez. And no emcee is/was foolish enough to ever test Black Thought on the mic (the apex of Thought's spitting-prime is probably among the all-time Top 10). But, recently, in an interview on the Combat Jack Show for Complex TV, Thought revealed this historical nugget:
Later on Combat Jacks asks "Have you ever been in any real beefs?" Black Thought responds that "the only little bump in the road" was his conflict with Nas, who dissed The Roots during an interview on Hot 97.
The Roots MC gives the inside story of how the trouble began and how he prepared to battle Nas—or perhaps "slap the sh*t out of" him—when they met at a show with Talib Kweli. "I was gonna take Nas that night."
Apparently, Nas had fired shots at The Roots' for involvement with Spike Lee's Bamboozled. Back in 2002 – when Nas was in ornery-mode going in on everyone – he called The Roots crew "porch monkeys" on Hot 97 for appearing in black face in Spike's flick. But Nas is a far more nuanced thinker than that. He had to recognize the film's overwhelming satire. Some say he went in on The Roots because they aligned themselves with Jay-Z, his archenemy at the time, when they played his house band for Jay's Unplugged album. Or maybe it went allll the way back to The Roots' "What They Do" video, when they mimiicked/mocked the "champagne flutes in the air" move that was ubiquitous in NYC hop videos, at the time. If you remember, Nas and crew might have began that whole craze toward the end of the iconic "Who's World Is This (Remix)" video. La-la-la, La-la-la, La-la-la-la-la.
Ahhhh. The good ol' days.