What is not to LOVE about The Roots? Black Thought is insightful, "thought"-ful and mercurial in his rhymes. ?love's beats are the foundation to the groove that is felt in each and every joint/jawn. Whether ?love's beats lay under the incredible bass lines of Hub, Owen or Mark, or behind the amazing guitar licks and shreds of Captain Kirk, THIS BAND WORKS! Throw in a TUBA. additional beats from Knuckles and soulful key work from Kamal, and what your ears enjoy is quickly transported to your head bobbing, shoulders swaying, and your hips shaking. The Roots connect on every level. If you want INTELLIGENT songs, THEY GOT EM. IF you dig on romance, THEY FEEL YOU. If you want some thumping, feel good, happy tunage- POP THEM IN. If you want MEANINGFUL, SOCIALLY MOVING, and TIMELY-throw- your- fist-up- shiznet, THEY WON'T FAIL YOU. You want an added bonus? There is continuous thread of jazz-like melodic deconstruction in their one of kind hip hop style, that makes them unique in a world of corporate manufactured music. God bless this hard working, revolutionary, KICK ASS band. If you haven't seen them LIVE, you should. YOU WON'T be disappointed, in fact- your life will be changed.
Though popular success has largely eluded the Roots, the Philadelphia group showed the way for live rap, building on Stetsasonic’s “hip-hop band” philosophy of the mid-’80s by focusing on live instrumentation at their concerts and in the studio. Though their album works have been inconsistent affairs, more intent on building grooves than pushing songs, the Roots’ live shows are among the best in the business.
The Roots’ focus on live music began back in 1987 when rapper Black Thought (Tariq Trotter) and drummer ?uestlove (Ahmir Khalib Thompson) became friends at the Philadelphia High School for Creative Performing Arts. Playing around school, on the sidewalk, and later at talent shows (with ?uestlove’s drum kit backing Black Thought’s rhymes), the pair began to earn money and hooked up with bassist Hub (Leon Hubbard) and rapper Malik B. Moving from the street to local clubs, the Roots became a highly tipped underground act around Philadelphia and New York. When they were invited to represent stateside hip-hop at a concert in Germany, the Roots recorded an album to sell at shows; the result, Organix, was released in 1993 on Remedy Records. With a music industry buzz surrounding their activities, the Roots entertained offers from several labels before signing with DGC that same year.
The Roots’ first major-label album, Do You Want More?!!!??!, was released in January 1995; forsaking usual hip-hop protocol, the album was produced without any samples or previously recorded material. It peaked just outside the Top 100, but was mostly ignored by fans of hip-hop. Instead, Do You Want More?!!!??! made more tracks in alternative circles, partly due to the Roots playing the second stage at Lollapalooza that summer. The band also journeyed to the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. Two of the guests on the album who had toured around with the band, human beatbox Rahzel the Godfather of Noyze — previously a performer with Grandmaster Flash and LL Cool J — and Scott Storch (later Kamal), became permanent members of the group.
Early in 1996, the Roots released Clones, the trailer single for their second album. It hit the rap Top Five, and created a good buzz for the album. The following September, Illadelph Halflife appeared and made number 21 on the album charts. Much like its predecessor, though, the Roots’ second LP was a difficult listen. It made several very small concessions to mainstream rap — the bandmembers sampled material that they had recorded earlier at jam sessions — but failed to make a hit of their unique sound. The Roots’ third album, 1999’s Things Fall Apart, was easily their biggest critical and commercial success; The Roots Come Alive followed later that year.
The long-awaited Phrenology was released in late November 2002 amid rumors of the Roots losing interest in their label arrangements with MCA. In 2004, the band remedied the situation by creating the Okayplayer company. Named after their website, Okayplayer included a record label and a production/promotion company. The same year, the band held a series of jam sessions to give their next album a looser feel. The results were edited down to ten tracks and released as The Tipping Point in July of 2004. A 2004 concert from Manhattan’s Webster Hall with special guests like Mobb Deep, Young Gunz, and Jean Grae was released in early 2005 as The Roots Present in both CD and DVD formats. Two volumes of the rarities-collecting Home Grown! The Beginner’s Guide to Understanding the Roots appeared at the end of the year.
A subsequent deal with Def Jam fostered a series of riveting, often grim sets, beginning with Game Theory (August 2006) and Rising Down (April 2008). In 2009, the group expanded its reach as the exceptionally versatile house band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The new gig didn’t slow their recording schedule; in 2010 alone, they released the sharp How I Got Over (June), as well as Wake Up! (September), where they backed John Legend on covers of socially relevant soul classics like Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes’ “Wake Up Everybody” and Donny Hathaway’s “Little Ghetto Boy.” The next year, as they remained with Fallon, the Roots worked with Miami soul legend Betty Wright on November’s Betty Wright: The Movie, and followed it weeks later with their 13th studio album, Undun.
Undun is the twelfth studio album by The Roots. Recording sessions for the album took place at several recording locations in Philadelphia and New York City. Production was handled primarily by Questlove, record producer and drummer for the band. Undun incorporates neo soul and indie music elements. It is an existential concept album about the short, tragic life of fictional character Redford Stevens, set in urban poverty,…
Jon Pareles, writing for The New York Times, called the album “a serious deliberation on perseverance: a message for an era of recession”, stating “Even in its boasts, How I Got Over is selfless: an album of doubts, parables and pep talks”.James Shahan of URBfound it “dark and tragic in places, but also enlightening and empowering”.Matthew Fiander of PopMatters called it…
According to the band’s producer Questlove, Rising Down “is an electric record, more synthy. The darks are darker and the lights are lighter. But all I know is making quality hip-hop stylistically. We tried to do something we never did before. Kamal had to be the sacrificial lamb this time. The one instrument that has defined the Roots…
Game Theory received universal acclaim from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 83, based on 26 reviews. Allmusic’s Andy Kellman praised its musical quality and lyrical themes, writing “Spinning turbulence, paranoia, anger, and pain into some of…
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