Date: Sun, 19 May 2013 19:23:36 +0200
Where Your Singles At, Quest?
Though most hip-hop freaks loved it, I felt like Things Fall Apart was a collection of filler stuffed around one hot track:
MP3: The Roots - Dynamite! (from Things Fall Apart, 1999).
Three years later we got Phrenology, an album boasting one of the greatest tracks in hip-hop (The Seed 2.0, with the reliably odd Cody Chesnutt*). Unfortunately, that single was distractingly good, making the rest of the record look dead average in comparison.
But with Game Theory, and the recently released Rising Down, The Roots have become — kind of inexplicably — a real album band. Instead of top-loading their records with hit singles, they’ve seemingly dedicated themselves to crafting an experience… LPs with peaks and valleys, soundscapes, recorded memories, speech sampled from the news and every day life.
MP3: The Roots - “The Pow Wow” (from Rising Down, 2008).
They’re the Pink Floyd of rap, wilfully anti-commercial, dedicated to art over commerce, sometimes deliberately difficult. Nowadays The Roots are interested in headphone experiences, not club bangers. They’re stronger for it.
Besides, they can still release a good single, as the punch-in-the-gut beats and bangs centrepiece of Game Theory (that’d be Here I Come) proved. Rising Down lacks a similarly electrified single, but it’s still a strong record, full of anger and frustration. And, as per usual, great music:
MP3: The Roots - “Rising Down Feat. Mos Def & Styles P” (from Rising Down, 2008).
*I know Cody asks that his surname is written ‘ChesnuTT’, but I’ll never abide artists fucking with capitalisation. You listening, K.D.? Fuck off, E.E.