The Roots are one of, if not the most, likeable of hip hop acts out there-a status held for so long by groups like De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest. I first encountered upon The Roots experience as an impressionable young man when I attended their gig at a very small venue, The Warehouse, in Derby, England in 1996 or 1997. That gig was something else. Come to think of it, I don’t believe I have been to a hyper hip hop gig since. And I have been to my fair share of gigs. The Roots had Rahzel, the human beatbox in their line up back then and trust me the show was just off the hook.
So imagine the memories and excitement when I was asked to review The Roots’ new album, ‘How I Got Over’. I have to admit that I have only ever owned two of their albums, the first ‘Do You Want More?’ and the second ‘Illadelph Halflife’, though I have kept tabs on their progress. With the new album being their ninth studio album, you could say this was a reacquaintance of long lost pals.
The Roots Crew
The album kicks off with a harmonising introduction giving the listener a little taster of what is to come. Musically The Roots are always on their J-O-B and this musicality is evident from the onset. The fact that this album was recorded during the group’s tenure as house band on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon only adds to that and perhaps explains a more universal approach to a now much wider and more diverse audience than ever before. A perfect example of this is their version of the Monsters of Folk song ‘Dear God’. If there’s a song on this album to turn non believers into believers then surely ‘Dear God 2.0’ is that song.
[wpaudio url=”https://www.thewordisbond.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/03-Dear-God-2.0-Feat.-Monsters-Of-Folk.mp3″ text=”The Roots – Dear God 2.0 (Ft. Monsters Of Folk)” dl=”0″]
I don’t know if this project was meant to be a collaboration effort on every track or it just turned out that way. Be warned though, there are a lot of guests on here bar three songs.
The Roots have always been highly regarded by their peers hence their extensive portfolio of work that includes big names like Jay Z, Nas, Common, Talib Kweli and RnB stars Jill Scott and Erykah Badu. However their critical successes have not been mirrored in the mainstream. Perhaps that will now change with this album and their new found television exposure. I sense Black Thought, the ultimate lyricist that he is, feels on some of the songs here that he has not received the acknowledgement or place in the game that is his. Paranoia, God, isolation, expectations and a lack of being understood are all themes addressed. ‘The Day’ featuring Blu and Patty Crash is a typical example.
[wpaudio url=”https://www.thewordisbond.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/08-The-Day-Feat.-Blu-Phonte-Patty-Crash.mp3″ text=”The Roots – The Day (Ft. Blu, Phonte, Patty Crash)” dl=”0″]
I don’t know whether this was a concerted effort but a lot of the songs have melodic choruses. In my household this always goes down well with my wife and kids as they can then sing along to the songs. This aspect shows the wider appeal of the album.
The album is out now so go get you some, you won’t be disappointed.