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April 24, 2016

WATCH: The Roots' 'Black Thought' busts out freestyle at Harvard talk

Frontman Tariq Trotter participates in 'The Other Side' speaker series at the Harvard Innovation Lab

Musicians The Roots
042416_TariqBlackThoughtTrotter Source/Harvard Innovation Lab

Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter of The Roots joins Harvard's "The Other Side" speaker series.

Last October, Jimmy Fallon came to the City of Brotherly Love to toast The Roots as they entered the Philadelphia Music Alliance Walk of Fame, joining an illustrious class that including jazz icon Billie Holliday and disco favorites the Trammps.

For the past quarter-century, The Roots have laid claim to a formative place in the evolution of hip-hop, perfecting the art of studied social criticism as it pertains to the complexities of racial politics — all set over the instrumental brightness and whoosh of neosoul. 

Outside show business, the band's frontmen, Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter and Amir "Questlove" Thompson, have likewise inspired fans in the areas of food culture, fashion and business.

Black Thought recently joined the Harvard Innovation Lab to participate in The Other Side speaker series, which asks "innovation luminaries" to share their successes and failures in order to help explain what it takes to thrive in today's hyper-competitive world.

In a ranging conversation, Trotter offered up five insights that should serve as powerful lessons for any startup, according to the Boston Business Journal.

• Respect your co-founder

• Stay true to your mission

• Work hard

• Be fearless

• Spend time on a name

But that wasn't all Trotter had up his sleeve. Appearing with his magnificently groomed beard, Black Thought was asked if he might indulge the audience in a little bit of a freestyle.

"I can kick a rhyme," Trotter says. "Don't judge me." He then proceeded to unleash a nearly five-minute bombshell that should remind us all how much wit and ingenuity go into what The Roots and other acclaimed hip-hop artists do.