If youre still not a Roots fan, whats the hold up? Rocking since their 1993 Organix debut up until now their tenth proper go around, Rising Down (Def Jam), the Philadelphia Rap band have scored a legion of devotees. Like Shawty Lo dey know, as in their fans, what to expect from a new Roots album.
Nevertheless ad nauseum critical speculation on what this ?uestlove and Black Thought led outfit will pull next and whether it will finally get them over that mainstream hump abounds before all their new projects drops. All the jibber jabber manages to drown out one thing, the Roots make dope albums.
Starting off with a heated convo from their Geffen Records days (The Pow Wow) the album dives into the Mos Def and Styles P assisted title track. Literally buzzworthy with its electro fuzzing backdrop, along with Thought, the trio goes into everything from global warming to drug sales to evil tech. All anchored by the songs bleak refrain: You dont see that somethings wrong Earths spinning out of control / Everythings for sale even the souls, so go get God on the phone.
While the ominous tone felt throughout Rising Down falls right in line with 2006s Game Theory, also continued from that clip in the Roots catalog is a re-dedication to two chief elements; hard drumming from ?uest and Thoughts endless bars of lyrical bombast.
Of course, the homies lend some assistance too. O.G. Roots affiliate Dice Raw makes W.E.B. DuBois meeting Heavy D and the Boys sound fresh while Roc-a-fella expatriate Peedi Peedi steals the show on charisma alone on the rushing Get Busy.
A gang of guests new (P.O.R.N., Truck North) and old (Talib Kweli, Common on the exceptional The Show) round out a crowded guest list while Malik B back on a pair of tracks seals the deal. And despite what you may think, Thought does not get outshined. One listen to 75 Bars (Blacks Reconstruction) or the too short aural ride Unwritten should let you know who is in charge here.
But a having a full rack of shiny parts does not automatically make a superior product. But the Roots avoid underachieving by mixing all these ingredients into a cohesive album. For example, beginning with the soothing, Saigon assisted Criminal to the funking I Will Not Apologize to the industrial grooves of the M-Ilitant feauturing I Cant Help It, the adept sequencing maximizes each songs impact. This is an album meant to be played through, not merely broken down into bite size iPod morsels.
The albums apex and perhaps its best cut, the Go-Go infused, Chrisette Michelle and Wale featuring Rising Up does not cozily fit into the albums temperamental mood. But thats part of the Roots secret of success. Besides the limiting tag of Hip-Hop Band the Illadelph squad has been nearly impossible to peg.
Sure fans can expect a boom bap record or a record with some singing from a set-to-blow-up-later artist, but all the other intangibles like new members/instruments (a sousaphone?), new jacks (Truck North) or the novelty of discovering how they flipped it this go around keeps nouveau and vintage fans on their toes.
When it comes to keeping their old guard happy while ushering new acolytes into the fray, the Roots always rise to the occasion.
The Roots Featuring Dice Raw And Peedi Peedi
"75 Bars (Black's Reconstruction)"