The Roots is a band that should get far more credit than it does in the hiphop community, let alone the stardom and acclaim it has received in the music business. The Roots is one of the best bands of this generation, and it is apparent in their new album!
Branching off of their previous album that took jabs at the Bush administration in 2008, The Roots return with their 11th album How I Got Over. According to the lead emcee Black Thought, this is the album that addresses feeling post-Bush administration and promotes a positive p.o.v during Obama's presidency. How cute!
*INSERTS SARCASM HERE*
There's hardly any other equipment used except for the band's instruments, a few samples here and there, and their vocalists. The reinterpretations of "Peaches en Regalia" by Frank Zappa, "Again" by John Legend and "Serve This Royalty" by former band member Cody ChestnuTT were almost on-point, considering the hiphop twist the band speaks from. The band purposely decides to not use samples, but give their own type of cover of classic tracks, and (as it does with any great band) it works out in their favor! Actually, it's about time they have released a band-only, sample-less album. They are a group that needs nothing more than their instruments and their emcees.
Not to diss the featured artists, because they definitely complement the album, especially its sound. Hearing Blu (and also Phonte) with The Roots is a blessing to all, if nothing else, let alone a beautifully-carved production like How I Got Over! One thing people should appreciate, especially the Philly fans, is that The Roots has always had Philly-bred emcees. One thing ALL people should appreciate is how these emcees, Dice Raw and Truck North in particular, have developed through their association with The Roots. They have improved dramatically from earlier albums like Things Fall Apart to Rising Down to this album. Another Philly-fav to hear on another album of The Roots is Peedi Peedi (formerly Peedi Crack from Roc-A-Fella), who always rip The Roots's livest tracks on their albums. He too has received major props and improvement from working with The Roots.
The content of this album still carries over from a while ago, but it's supposedly a continuation of their last studio album Rising Down. Even with this double-album story, it IS disappointing to hear near-identical lyrics from their previous album in 2008. It's 2010, Black Thought! Shouldn't you be looking past the "computers taking over" and "high gas prices" and start talk about what needs to be done?? The theme is easy to SEE in this album, but it's so blue and gloomy it's difficult to understand. Nothing is blatant about this album, instead the lyrics are so vague it can be easily forgotten. How I Got Over speaks to what gets people under, but barely says how to get over. Influences from the Blues are easily seen as Black Thought only delivers nothing but sadness. Rarely are there uplifting tracks on this album. If you take away "Now or Never," "The Day" and "Hustla," then you have the saddest hiphop album of 2010! Ok, maybe that's a bit extreme, but this album definitely fails to be as uplifting as the title presents itself to be.
Overall, How I Got Over is a production gem for The Roots. But even through its beautifully laced artwork by the band comes depressing content, and it's content that, although relevant, is carried over from 2008. The string of guests in this album definitely accentuate the sound, and gives them more credibility than they already had. Through all of this, How I Got Over manages to fit in small doses of uplifting content, so it evens out to be an album that could send listeners on a fluctuating ride of emotion.
Star's Grade: A-