Drummer Ahmir Thompson, also known as Questlove, and rapper Tariq Trotter, aka Black Thought, started The Roots when they were in high school in Philadelphia in 1987. Over the last thirty years, the band has released 17 albums. They’ve received a bunch Grammy nominations including three wins. They’re also the house band for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. In this episode, Questlove tells the story of how they made the song “It Ain’t Fair.” It was created for the film Detroit, directed by oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow, who also made the films The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. Detroit is about the 1967 Detroit riots, centered around the events at the Algiers Motel, where police killed three young black men and beat and tortured nine others. The Roots recruited the singer Bilal to contribute vocals to the song, and they worked with The Dap-Kings, the backing band for the late soul singer Sharon Jones, to create a sound that evoked the music of 1967.
Trent Reznor started Nine Inch Nails in 1988. He released eight albums, sold over 20 million records, won two Grammys and was nominated for 11 more. Then, in 2010, Trent Reznor and his longtime collaborator Atticus Ross scored the film The Social Network, and they won an Oscar for it. A few years later, in 2016, Atticus Ross joined Nine Inch Nails as an official member. The duo’s most recent release is Add Violence, an EP, and in this episode, Trent and Atticus break down a song from it called “The Lovers.”