Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson and Tarik ‘Black Thought’ Trotter (the latter of which may still hold the crown for the greatest freestyle in modern-day time) are having a pretty damn good week.
The duo—who are part of the Grammy award-winning hip-hop collective The Roots—have signed a first-look deal with Universal Television and Universal Television Alternative Studio, via their production company, Two One Five Entertainment. The deal will last three years and “covers development on scripted, unscripted and specials programming across television and digital content platforms, expanding The Roots’ 10-year-plus relationship with NBC.”
It’s a deal that makes sense logistically as the two are already part of the NBCUniversal family—The Roots are the official house band of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Questlove serves as musical director of the show.
“This deal is very important to us as we’ve been content producers and storytellers for our entire career,” Questlove said in a statement via a press release sent to The Root. “A significant investment from Universal Television Alternative Studio and Universal Television in our vision allows us to share these stories on a much larger scale. Tarik and I see this as the next chapter to our careers, and we are very involved in the entire process. I’m directing, Tarik is writing and we both are producing.”
“Many of our initial projects have been music-centric content, and one of our goals is to become the [premier] hub for music storytelling—a safe space for these stories to be shared across a variety of platforms,” Black Thought added. “Eventually we will expand outside of music with our stories. However, as we all know, every story has a rhythm and Two One Five Entertainment will harness that rhythm and create well-produced, compelling content.”
Questlove took to Instagram to celebrate the deal with the caption, “Not even this is gonna stop us from telling stories. We have a plan and we sticking to it,” with “this” seeming to allude to the coronavirus pandemic and the effect it is currently having on the entertainment industry.
Founded by Questlove and Black Thought, Two One Five Entertainment has a few projects in development, such as docuseries Hip Hop Songs that Shook America (which premiered on AMC last year); Soul Train the Musical; Black No More (partnering with Oscar winner John Ridley); as well as the recently completed Black Woodstock feature documentary, based on the Harlem Cultural & Arts Festivals in 1969.
As mentioned when we reported on Black Woodstock back in December, The Root often gets mistaken for The Roots, so taking this show on the road to television may not be a bad idea, Questlove and Black Thought! We’ll have our people call your people...who some may still believe to be the same people. But, I digress. Congrats, fellas!