The Roots – How I Got Over

These days, I blindly buy anything The Roots put out.  That is, I dont have to sample any of the songs prior to purchasing the album.  There arent many bands I can say that about.  But time and time again, The Roots continue to prove themselves as musical artists in the truest sense of the term.

how I got over, for the most part, has a jazzy and mellowed-out vibe  nothing returning fans would be surprised about.  That would actually be my one complaint about the album, in that it lacks high-energy up-tempo songs, save the title track.  But all in all, they manage to push the envelope and draw the listener in, deeper and deeper into their sonic palette.  Listening to it in chronological order has the effect of a movie or novel, whereby you appreciate all the subtle nuances once youve experienced the work in its entirety.

The very first thing that jumped out at me during my first listen was the sample of ”Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.)”, from Monsters of Folk’s debut album on the song aptly titled “Dear God 2.0”.  Black Thought rhymes in his usual provocative style, forcing you to not just hear him, but to listen: Who does the blind lead?  Show me a sign, please.  If everything is made in China, are we Chinese?  The lyrical content throughout the album stays within their brand of social justice, self-consciousness, and introspective thought; showing you a grim side of the world you might not have know otherwise.  Youll recognize some familiar guests such as Dice Raw, P.O.R.N., Truck North, Peedi Peedi, Phonte, and others.  Malik B, who has been with The Roots since their inception, is noticeably absent.

Though each album is different in their own right, how I got over follows a change that was marked with Game Theory, and then with Rising Down.  These last three albums have a pristine sonic quality that just wasnt present in their earlier work.  The drums are crisp and in your face (right where they should be), every instrument has a space of its own, and the band seems to get more and more creative with each release.  On Hustla, for example, one of the major melodic riffs is what sounds like an Auto Tune version of a baby crying.  Another nice surprise was hearing the excerpt from John Legends Again on Doin it again.  Black Thoughts vocals blast through the microphone with the opening line, “Remix, rising up out of the flames like a phoenix”.

You wouldnt know this from buying the download version, but the physical cd starts at number 143 opposed to the traditional 1, reminding us all that there is a universe of material to be explored.  Something to keep in mind for any newcomer that thinks The Roots are just the house band for Jimmy Fallon.

Once again, The Roots strike that fine balance between creativity and musical sensibility with how I got over. Other noteworthy tracks include: The Fire, Now or Never, and Walk Alone.

~ by carlitoreviews on July 9, 2010.

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