Artist: The Roots/J. PeriodTitle: The Best Of The RootsRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Jessica Dufresne
There is arguably no stronger marriage than this: the most dependable group in Hip-Hop and the most dependable mixtape DJ. When they come together, the result is J. Periods The Best of The Roots (Hosted by Black Thought)a thumping collection of 51 rare remixes, freestyles, unreleased tracks, classic joints, special guests, and world premieres.
Going right in, Black Thought intros with a ferocious public service announcement over Jay-Z’s “PSA” beat: We the livest/Ain’t nobody on top/Ain’t nobody beside us/Though I’m usually modest/What I’m being is honest/Yo, when Thought spit it son/you could see it’s a promise/Gotta lot of emcees trying to be prima donnas/I look at y’all rappers/What I see is vaginas. And that’s just a taste of the Bad Lieutenant’s lyrical assault throughout the CD, proving what many have known for years: he is one of the best to do it.
J. Period throws out exclusives galore including “Been Thru the Storm”, Thought’s co-opting of the Busta’s featur set with Stevie Wonder singing about the struggles of life and a never-released version of “Break You Off” featuring DAngelo instead of Musiq. Some songs from previous albums receiving J. Period’s special touch are “Push Up Ya Lighter” featuring Kardinal Offishall and “Concerto of the Desperados with a verse by Rakim. And if you didn’t catch the steel drum-laced 1999 remix to “You Got Me” (called ”Me Tienes” because of the Spanish hook) back then, not only is it here, but theres also J. Period’s mix with Nas dropping a few bars.
In discussing what elements define him as an emcee, Thought gives props to one of his favorites, Big Pun (who had named Thought as one of his favorites way before The Roots became well known) and what follows on “Superlyrical” (from Capital Punishment) is an example of why Puns spot is cemented in Hip-Hop history. Another late, great rhyme slayer making a posthumous appearance is Big L, who Thought also acknowledges as one of the best, on J. Period’s remix of “Live From the PJs”.
Taking it back to past albums, there’s an all-too brief version of the jazzy favorite “Essaywhuman?!”, “What They Do”, “Clones” and “You Got Me”, with Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and Eve.
Finally, the world premieres, all produced by J. Period, are the majestic homage to Illadelph, “Streets of Philly”, the melancholy “Pity the Child/Come Together” with Zion I and the brooding closer, “Murder in the First” featuring Hov.
There are some songs notably absent, like any of the “Proceed” versions or the rare “Silent Treatment” remix to name just two, but nevertheless, this CD is a must for all Roots fans. And as Okayplayers anxiously await Game Theory to see what the Def Jam machine will do for the legendary Roots crew, J. Period has in the meantime put together another classic mixtape to hold them over.