Missed Music

Music you didn’t know you needed…until now.

Energetic and heavy hip-hop from The Roots

A friend and reader turned me on to a Roots album I had not yet heard. I have listened to a little Roots, but the only track I had on my iPod at this point was their collaboration with Cody ChestnuTT, ‘The Seed 2.0,’ covering (and improving upon) one of Cody’s old songs, ‘The Seed.’ Well, my friend recommended “Game Theory” from 2006. I liked it so much, I’m recommending it to you today.

Any more suggestions as good as this one are welcome.

The Roots got their start in 1993 with an independently produced album, “Organix.” Their jazzy approach to hip-hop and their use of live instruments got them a record deal with DGC Records. For a while there, hip-hop was almost all samples. Happily, the live instrument has made a bit of a comeback, in part thanks to The Roots.

Over The Roots’ 11-album career, the band has had some heavy hitters in it, including Ben Kenney (now with Incubus) and Scott Storch (who has worked with EVERYbody and now runs Storch Music Company and Tuff Jew Productions). The band’s skills on their instruments and facility with different grooves has led them to collaborate with all kinds of people. “Game Theory” is no exception, and they brought in several musicians to pitch in.

I ripped 7 of 13 tracks from this album to my iPod. Check them out.

  • False Media – This groove is mostly percussion and flow, though there is some synthesizer in the background. Even stripped down, it’s a great track.
  • Don’t Feel Right – I think this is my favorite track on the disc. Maimouna Youssef’s flow is great, the backing vocals are energetic, and the samples are perfect.
  • In The Music – Malik B and Porn paint a bleak picture of the streets of Philly in front of heavy percussion and a vamping guitar hook. The chorus is great. “Let it bang on the block ’til the neighbors call the cops. The cops gone come but they ain’t gone do shit. They don’t want no problems. Whatta y’all, stupid?”
  • Long Time – A lot of this album is bleak, but in spite of the dark urban story at the heart of this track the music is joyful and triumphant.
  • Livin’ In A New World – Clean guitar and flute never stop moving behind John-John as he lays down a short and sweet rap about how technology tracks us every minute of our day.
  • Clock With No Hands – Keys and light horns set up this R&B groove. In fact, you think it’s going to be a love song when it starts, but it’s a heavy examination of life’s problems and how we all face our problems alone.
  • Atonement – They drop it back a bit for this slow, steady track with pretty backing vocals and strings.

I think I must have missed some of the better Roots albums. I wasn’t crazy about “Phrenology,” but this album rocked. I’m going to go back in their catalog and I’ll let you know what I find.



August 2, 2010 - Posted by | Hip Hop

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