FEATURE: Taraji P. Henson, Love of My Life

[Editor’s Note: These are the outtakes to the edited interview that appears in the October 2009 issue of XXL.]

On Her Earliest Hip-Hop Memories
Roxanne Shante was very “hood,” and because I grew up in the hood I felt as if she was speaking for all the little brown girls with hopes and dreams who came from pretty much nothing. Me and my girls would stand in the mirror with our hip-hop gear and outrageous hair and pretend we were them! As I grew older, hip-hop grew with me. As apart of my curriculum at Howard University, I had to study African American music, which prompted my love for jazz music. My relationship with The Native Tongues grew out of my appreciation for jazz, because that’s when I first started hearing jazz music infused with hip hop. I was madly in love with A Tribe Called Quest, The Brand Nubians and The Jungle Brothers.

On Her Favorite Artists
Biggie will always have a place in my heart and music collection even though his life was cut so short. For me, he was the voice of the East Coast hood, and I know if he were alive today I would have all of his albums. Love me some Roots ’cause they are just grown and sexy and they use a live band. Talib Kweli and Mos Def, because they are smart, lyrical geniuses. If you two should happen to be reading this, my soul needs another Black Star collabo! J Dilla, rest in peace. His ear for music was incredible. Common—another lyrical genius. Nasty Nas is just brilliant. Lil Wayne ’cause he can flow to the sound of a washing machine and make it hot! Kanye West because he takes risks. Mary J. Bleezy is my number one soul sister in R&B. She totally deconstructed and rebuilt herself in the public eye through her music and is still going strong. Her music has always spoken deeply to my soul. I often used so many of her songs to help me get where I needed to be emotionally in my work. Dwele, Raheem Devaughn, Musiq Soulchild, their sounds are so grown and sexy because they sing about love and life, not bumping and grinding. I don’t see nothing wrong with a little bump and grind. I just don’t need a whole album about it.

On Why She Loves Hip-Hop
It’s art! It’s poetry! People tried to hate on it back in the day saying it was just a phase, but it is here to stay. With each generation, hip-hop finds a new sound and a new life. People also said it was noise, but guess what? This noise sells a lot of product all over the globe in commercial spots, so hip-hop gets the last laugh.

On Her Favorite Movie Role
That would have to be Talk To Me. Working with Don Cheadle was a dream come true. He is the most talented male actor of our time. I think Vernelle, my character, showcased my range. She was some of everything a human can be. Of course the story was beautifully written and directed. Until then, I had never seen a love (friendship, that is) between two Black men on the big screen.

On Her Favorite Hood Movie
I know I’m not supposed to say that Baby Boy is my all time favorite hood movie, but I have to tell you, Baby Boy is my all time favorite movie. I can’t help it and I must tell the truth.

  • David HussleSoft

    Taraji P. Henson is fine as hell

    And Don Cheadle is way underrated as an actor he should get more props

    • Silly Chilly Willy

      Cosign !

      I think the problem with Don is the same for Nas, Nas can’t pick a beat and Don don’t really get unforgettable parts. It’s a shame cause he’s a beast.

      J7M

      • Enlightened

        You right. But one big difference is that Hollywood don’t respect Black movies.
        So even when he gets an unforgettable part like “Talk To Me” or “Devil in a Blue Dress” the “mainstream” media acts like it never existed. We all know what’s up though.

        I died laughin’ watching a Denzel interview where he basically said Don Cheadle murdered him on his own shit when they did “Devil in a Blue Dress.”

        • arw3000

          I luv to pull the race card when i need it….but not this time. Don’t forget Don stole Iron Man II.

  • Enlightened

    If I was Mos Def I might have to tell her, “Ay Taraji why don’t you slide by the studio about midnight this Saturday and we can start getting some ideas together for that Black Star album you want to hear. I’ll call Kweli later.”

    • Silly Chilly Willy

      HAHAHA !!!

      - How you feelin ?
      - Nah, I’m fine !
      - My name is Mos
      - I’m Taraji!
      - Heard so much good about you
      - It’s nice to finally meet…..

      In the background :”If I don’t,if I don’t,if I don’t…..”

  • Bobo D

    I liked Baby Boy, but I liked Taraji sex scene the most!!!
    As far hood movies go
    -Friday
    -Boyz n the Hood
    -Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood.

  • Sincere

    Damn she’s fine and a true hip hop head.

    Don Cheadle always kills it just like Denzel they become that character from mannerisms to accents and vocal tones.

  • heartlandG

    Yeah she hella fine!
    In Baby Boy when she was piccn up tha kid at Jodie house and it was rainin and she got bacc in the car and said “He dont love me no more” she had a serious THIZZ face -lol

  • Mutada/Mullah Atari

    Congrats on your Oscar nod Ma. You deserve it. I just hate the fact that we have to play hoes,(Hallie) villans,(Denzel), and Mammy’s(you) to get hollywood to notice. Keep doing you, I took my grandmother to see the new TP movie and you looked great

  • Who Dat?

    1)She fine

    2)No mention of Jay-z

    3)No Nas, No Esco… but Nasty Nas

    Damn!! Can a brother Holla?

  • stoneyisland

    When you think of wifey material it should start with Taraji. Beautiful, classy a little street edge, talented, did I mention fine as all out doors? I dont know if baby doll has a man but if not I damn sho’ want an application to apply for that position:)

  • BeerGangsta

    Taraji is fine and should be mine! Hustle and Flow put her on the map. I see she love East Coast Music. She is from DC where all that Black Azz is at. I hope I can play a Movie with you one day. Or Produce a Movie with you in it. I will make that Bitch Grand Poe Ugly Azz Jealous!!

  • ChiTown

    “Claudddeee How Mercy, the Lawd is my shepard, he know what I want!!”
    -Bernie Mac

  • http://www.justice.gov.za GO-Getta’

    From her list i can tell she likes her music grown & sexy.

  • http://xxlmag ICEBERG

    I KNOW HER MOM SHE WAS MY TEACHER PALM COAST FL STAND UP

  • tumi

    Guess she likes it wen Lil bitch weezy says I’m a martyr

  • imran

    how about my going any country

  • http://facebook taragee

    hey taraji is a beautiful actor i see that u dont like that song celebrate cause i dont neither me and taraji have the same name but spelled different taragee isnt dat cool big ups taraji love ya i wish i can be in a movie wit u someday mi and my mom r working on making mii an actor and a singer can u help mii out ill be back on this website see ya