Ta-Nehisi Coates And Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter Talk Their Creative Process, Their Inspirations And More Live At The Apollo

March 3, 2022

Hailed as “our most vital public intellectual” (Vanity Fair), MacArthur “Genius” Fellow Ta-Nehisi Coates is no stranger to the Apollo stage in Harlem.

Coates serves as the Theater’s inaugural Master Artist-in-Residence, an initiative that deepens Apollo’s relationship with an influential artist whose work aligns with Apollo’s mission.

His work with the Apollo includes the theatrical premiere of the staged adaptation of his seminal work Between the World and Meas well as conversations with Oprah Winfrey about his debut novel The Water Dancer; and Lupita Nyong’o and the late Chadwick Boseman about Black Panther.

As part of his multi-year residency, Coates will be joined by multi-talented rapper, singer, and actor Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter of the Grammy Award-winning band The Roots on the Apollo stage on Wednesday, March 30, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. EDT to discuss their work, what inspires them, and the ways in which they are reimagining their artforms for the future.

As an award-winning author and journalist, Coates gained a wide readership during his time as national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he wrote about cultural, social, and political issues, particularly regarding African Americans and white supremacy, and went on to pen numerous bestselling books and comic series.

Praised by The New York Times as “Hip-hop’s Dostoyevsky,” Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter’s latest work, Black No More, a musical for which he wrote the music and performs in, based on George S. Schuyler’s Afrofuturist novel by the same name, recently premiered Off-Broadway.

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates is an award-winning author and journalist. He is the author of the bestselling books The Beautiful Struggle, We Were Eight Years in Power, The Water Dancer, and Between the World and Me, which won the National Book Award in 2015. He was a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship that same year.

As a journalist with a career spanning over two decades, he’s written for numerous publications including, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Washington City Paper, and The Village Voice.

During his time reporting for The Atlantic between 2008-2018, he penned the National Magazine Award-winning 2012 essay “Fear of a Black President” and the influential June 2014 essay “The Case For Reparations.”

Ta-Nehisi also contributed to Marvel’s Black Panther (2016-2021) and Captain America (2018-2021) comics series.

Coates is currently writing the screenplays for the upcoming films Wrong Answer, Superman and the film adaptation of his first fiction novel, The Water Dancer. In the fall of 2022, he is planning to join Howard University’s faculty as a writer-in-residence and the Sterling Brown Chair in the Department of English.

Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter

Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter is a Grammy Award-winning rapper and multi-hyphenate perhaps best known as lead vocalist of The Roots. He has released 14 studio albums with the group and has gone on to work on many other creative projects, including producing Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording) with bandmate Questlove.

The two also co-executive produced the AMC documentary series Hip Hop: The Songs that Shook America, which put out seven episodes, each diving into a track that contributed to hip-hop’s rise from a cultural revolution to the dominant global genre.

Beginning in 2009, Trotter and The Roots could be seen nightly by millions of viewers as the in-house band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, followed by The Tonight Show.

Trotter has since stepped away to focus on his upcoming projects, including Black No More, an Afro-futurist musical for which he wrote the music and lyrics, premiered Off-Broadway this Spring with Trotter playing the lead role.


Apollo’s Master-Artist-in-Residence program is a three-year initiative that deepens the Apollo’s relationship with a prominent, influential artist whose work aligns with the Apollo’s mission as a beacon of Black culture and catalyst for artistic production for the Harlem community and around the world.


The health and safety of our audiences, artists, and staff is the Apollo’s top priority. Please note that all attendees must present a government-issued picture ID prior to entry and show a completed vaccination card authorized by the FDA or WHO against COVID-19 (dated at least 14 days before the show). Proof of vaccination can be displayed on smartphones.

Proof of vaccination may also include a CDC Vaccination Card (or photo), NYC Vaccination Record, or an official immunization record from outside New York City or the United States.

Photo ID for children under 12 will not be required if they are accompanied by parents/guardians with a government-issued photo ID. All attendees are required to wear masks inside the theater. For a complete list of Apollo’s COVID-19 safety protocols, please visit www.ApolloTheater.org.

The Apollo

The legendary Apollo Theater-the soul of American culture-plays a vital role in cultivating emerging artists and launching legends. Since its founding, the Apollo has served as a center of innovation and a creative catalyst for Harlem, the city of New York, and the world.

With music at its core, the Apollo’s programming extends to dance, theater, spoken word, and more. This includes the world premiere of the theatrical adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me and the New York premiere of the opera We Shall Not Be Moved; special programs such as the blockbuster concert Bruno Mars Live at the Apollo; 100The Apollo Celebrates Ella; and the annual Africa Now! Festival.

The non-profit Apollo Theater is a performing arts presenter, commissioner, and collaborator that also produces festivals, large-scale dance and musical works organized around a set of core initiatives that celebrate and extend the Apollo’s legacy through a contemporary lens, including the Women of the World (WOW) Festival as well as other multidisciplinary collaborations with partner organizations.

Since introducing the first Amateur Night contests in 1934, the Apollo has served as a testing ground for new artists working across a variety of art forms and has ushered in the emergence of many new musicals genres-including jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, soul, and hip-hop.

Among the countless legendary performers who launched their careers at the Apollo are Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, H.E.R., D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill, Machine Gun Kelly, and Miri Ben Ari; and the Apollo’s forward-looking artistic vision continues to build on this legacy. For more information about Apollo, visit www.ApolloTheater.org.

TICKETS: Tickets, starting at $15, are on sale now at www.ApolloTheater.org and in-person at the Apollo Theater Box Office. Harlem residents, employees, business owners, and students can save 50% on tickets through Apollo’s Half off for Harlem program at www.ApolloTheater.org/half-off-for-Harlem.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. EDT

The Apollo’s Historic Theater, 253 West 125th Street New York, NY 10027,  www.ApolloTheater.org

Photo Credits: 1) Ta-Nehisi Coates. 2) Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter. Photo: Joshua Woods.

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