“Undun”, the Roots concept album about a fictional Philadelphia drug dealer, debuts on Dec. 6 but for a limited time you can stream the album on NPR. The story is told in reverse order starting with the death of Redford Stevens, the man the album is based on. ?uestlove spoke with NPR about the album’s concept, the Roots’ start, his love of hip hop, growing up all around music and, lastly, his line of Nike sneakers.
Here’s ?uestlove on the concept of the album and Redford Stevens:
“So long story short, in my head I always had Avon Barksdale as kind of the prototype for what Redford was built on: a person that wasn’t born a criminal. But I didn’t want him to be the hero nor the pitied upon subject … This is literally 24 hours in his life, and he could make any decision that he wanted to and this is the path he chose and what happens happened. It sounds simple, but it was hard to do … It’s probably one of the hardest things not to make it overdramatic. Overdramatic in terms of I took all the gun stuff off the record, we took all of just anything that would lead to this as a drug dealer’s story. This is more or less a person who happens to be a drug dealer that had complex thoughts, and we sort of just made it into the record. And that was a hard thing.”
You can read the rest of the interview here. It’s a long but fantastic read.