The Roots' co-founders Black Thought and ?uestlove met at the Philadelphia High School for Creative Performing Arts in an unusual manner. ?uestlove (Ahmir Thompson) recalls, in a 2008 Rolling Stone interview, that he was on his way to class when he saw a guard pulling a kid by the ear. That kid was an incoming 9th-grader named Tariq Trotter (that’s Black Thought for the uninitiated), who had just been busted getting some from a ballerina in the bathroom. The two Philly-bred youngsters became good friends afterward. The Roots formally formed as a live band in 1987 under the stage moniker Square Roots. Members of The Roots:
Black Thought (Lead MC) ?uestlove (Drums) Kamal Gray (Electronic Keyboard) Captain Kirk (Electric Guitar) Frankie Knuckles (Percussion) Owen Biddle (Bass) James Poyser (Keyboard) Tuba Gooding Jr. (Tuba)
Former Members: Leonard "Hub" Hubbard (Bass); Malik B (MC); Scratch (Beatbox); Rahzel (Beatbox); Scott Storch (Electronic Keyboard); Ben Kenney (Electric Guitar); Dice Raw (MC) Organix: The group's rich passion for music led to gigs at local talent shows and street corners. (Here's a little known fact: ?uestlove sometimes rhymed on early Roots records.) Thanks to their dedication, the group was invited to perform in Germany. Before leaving for Europe, the Roots strung an album together as a promotional tool at their shows. This first album would come to be known as Organix.
When they returned to the United States, the group was bombarded with recording offers from various companies. They settled with DGC/MCA Records and jumped right into their major debut. Do You Want More?!!!??!:
?uestlove and co released their first major album, Do You Want More?!!!??!, in 1995. It was a groundbreaking album that offered a peek into the incredibly experimental approach to music that the Roots would later hang their hat on. Having skipped the conventional rap album blueprint, the Roots opted for innovative rhymes and a distinctly jazzy soundbed instead. The Roots weren't joking around when they named their first album "Organix." Do You Want More?!!!??! was 100% sample-free, no additives.