Tag Archives: the roots


Jimmy Fallon, Robin Thicke & The Roots Sing “Blurred Lines” w/ Classroom Instruments – YouTube

The Roots and Jimmy Fallon,  killing it again on the toy instruments.  Though this song is not hip hop, it’s also frustratingly catchy.

Cool Music

Freestylin With The Roots On Fallon

As most of you know, the Roots are the greatest band in late night TV.  They have made Late Night with Jimmy Fallon a huge success, and have also indicated that they are likely to follow Jimmy when he moves to take over the Tonight Show in a couple of years.

One audience favourite bit is “Freestylin with the Roots”.  Jimmy goes into the audience, asks for some random facts, and then suggests a style of music that the Roots must perform the track in.  Black Thought kills it, as always, but it’s also amazing how quickly the rest of the group is able to come up with a perfect sounding musical accompaniment.

In a recent edition of Freestylin With The Roots, we are treated to a solid overall performance.

But the big shocker? The Roots have a platinum album!

Now I know what you’re thinking.  It’s not How I got over (although I love the album).  Instead, their 1999 opus Things Fall Apart just went platinum.

14 years after release.

It’s a huge accomplishment, and blows my mind that it hasn’t happened till now.  Congratulations to the Roots!


Black Star performs on Fallon

Watch them perform Little Brother and You Already Knew on the Jimmy Fallon show.


All courtesy of Blackstarhub


The Roots ft. Big K.R.I.T. – “Make My” (2011)

Any day the Roots release new music is a good day in my books. This track, featuring some absolutely beautiful synths (listen closely for them at the end, especially), is from the band’s upcoming album, Undun.

The Roots “Make My” featuring Big K.R.I.T. by okayplayer

Album Reviews Featured

Wale releases “Attention Deficit”

Attention DeficitWale, the widely-acclaimed D.C. rapper, has finally dropped his debut album, Attention Deficit.  The darling of the indie hip-hop crowd (are they still called backpackers?), Wale has spent the past two or three years meticulously engineering a reputation as a talented lyricist and astute pop culture scrutineer.  From “doing justice to Justice,” to dropping a Mixtape About Nothing, to rising up with The Roots, Wall to the A (whose real name is Olubowale Akintimehin) has mastered the art of raising expectations; to say that his first major label attempt was highly anticipated would be an understatement.

Clocking in at 14 songs, Attention Deficit has an expansiveness that belies its modest track list.  Wale, trying to refute recent accusations that he lacks personality, touches on a surprising range of topics, jumping almost at random from “persona to persona.”  Meditations on “insecurity, bulimia, infidelity, intra-racial discrimination, self-loathing and coked out, aspirational celebrities” form the basis for an ambitious, almost experimental, record.

The results, I think, are mixed.  On “Shades” and “Diary” (featuring Marsha Ambrosius doing her best Michael Jackson impersonation), Wale’s remarkably candid thoughts on race and relationships are sincere and profound.  I was initially disappointed by “TV in the Radio,” on which K’Naan at first seems to absolutely steal the show, but after repeated listens, Wale’s clever punch-line laden verse (on whack emcees: “It’s utterly baloney / so I’m Muslim to these rappers”) is growing on me.

Less impressive are “Let it Loose” and “Chillin,” the Lady Gaga collaboration Wale made to appease his label:

Attention Deficit’s beats are similarly varied.  Spanning saccharine commercialism (“90210”), grimy funk (the excellent “Mirrors” featuring Bun B) and an homage to go-go (the irresistible “Pretty Girls”), the album is nothing if not sonically diverse.  The beats are also more complex and polished than most of the beats on Wale’s mixtapes – an obvious benefit, I suppose, of having money to spend on big-name producers like Mark Ronson, The Neptunes and Cool and Dre.

Reaction to Attention Deficit has been generally favourable so far.  Metacritic, for example, has it pegged at 77 based on 11 reviews.  I tend to agree: the album is certainly no classic, but its successes outweigh its failures, and it boasts enough solid hip-hop tunes to ensure multiple listens.  Wale’s creativity and willingness to branch out are a welcomed and refreshing break from the predictability of the hip-hop mainstream.  Ultimately, Attention Deficit is a flawed but promising debut, its occasional poor decisions tempered by flashes of raw talent and potential, and it mostly lives up to Wale’s carefully-cultivated reputation.

Buy Attention Deficit on Amazon or iTunes.

Listen to: “TV in the Radio” featuring K’Naan (courtesy of Surviving the Golden Age), “Mirrors” featuring Bun B and “Diary” featuring Marsha Ambrosius (courtesy of Culture Bully).


The Root questions okayplayer’s relevance

okayplayer is, without a doubt, one of my all-time favourite hip-hop websites. The digital home of cats like The Roots, Jean Grae, Erykah Badu and Common, okayplayer features fresh content of all types, from videos to interviews to news to the occasional free track or two.  The best part about it, though, is the sense of community that pervades the site.  Unlike other, newer hip-hop sites (okayplayer turns 10 next year), okp, as it’s known, has a fiercely loyal readership.  The people who are in to okayplayer are in to okayplayer.  Maybe it’s because legends like ?uestlove and Badu are regular contributors to its boards, or maybe it’s because the site doesn’t feel contrived – it’s obviously the product of a group who remain passionate about good hip-hop.

But given its age, is it still relevant?  On Tuesday, the Root ran an article entitled “Is Okayplayer Played Out?” in which Marcus J. Moore asks:

“… now that the Afrosphere is in full bloom and the very ’90s “neo-soul” genre has faded, a question has emerged: Has okayplayer become the digital equivalent to the old man at the club?”

Fortunately, he answers in the negative. After describing how a couple of other okayplayers feel, Moore offers his own insight:

“Not only is okayplayer still relevant, but it represents all that is good in music. Facebook and MySpace are more personal and allow people to reconnect with long-lost friends and family. But there are few other places on the Web to build friendships with others who share a progressive philosophy about music and get exclusives on new projects directly from the artists who share that sensibility.”

Definetly check the article out for yourself.  But before you do, here’s a classic joint that’ll make you think twice about doubting whether there’s still a place for sites like okayplayer .

Underreported News

Oh my goodness, it’s true – The Roots have sold out

Getting back to The Roots, who were involved in a scary bus crash a few months ago, the rumors are indeed confirmed.

Let me see if I can put this simply.

The Roots will be the house band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.


Our boys, including the irreverent ?uestlove will be backing up Jimmy Fallon when he takes over for Conan in March.  Conan’s moving up to take over for Jay Leno.

Watch his video blog announcement below, just so you can see it for yourself.

Personally I think it’s a huge loss to have the Roots give up touring to stay behind the scenes like this.  Hopefully they’ll have a high profile on the show, and somehow I can imagine ?uestlove laughing along with Jimmy the way Kevin Eubanks laughed along with Leno.  But it’s a sad day for hip hop.

Underreported News

Don’t panic, the Roots are still alive

I didn’t even know about this until yesterday, but Pitchfork is reporting that the Roots were involved in a bus accident on their tour in Europe.  Their tour bus collided with another car and thankfully everyone is okay.  ?uestlove blogged about it and said ““In reality the crash was all of about 7 seconds….but to do a 360 on the highway and end up ramped up (the van that crashed into ours was UNDER our double decker bus) in the air….is….well… a frigging miracle.””

You can see a picture of the bus at the top of this post.  How crazy is that?  It looks like a vicious crash, so I’m happy everyone is alive and well.

Pitchfork (among a ton of other sources) is also talking about the rumor that the Roots may be giving up the touring life.  The newest story is that they’ll become the house band on Late Night when Jimmy Fallon takes over for Conan.  I think that’ll be the saddest day, but I do understand that no one can keep up touring forever (unless you’re the Rolling Stones, of course).

So here’s hoping for a speedy recovery, and here’s also hoping that this Jimmy Fallon business is just a rumor.  I don’t think I could take the Roots seriously anymore knowing they were backing up that guy.


MuchMusic’s Rap City Steps Half Correctly

I don’t normally watch tv, but last night I was chillin’ at home and noticed Rap City was on so I tuned in. MuchMusic‘s only show dedicated entirely to hip-hop, Rap City has always been hit or miss for me. Forced to play music from across the hip-hop spectrum, Rap City shows often feature strange juxtapositions, like a vintage Tribe video followed by whatever crunk hit happens to be hot in the clubs that week. And last night was no exception. Still, before descending into a string of Lil’ Wayne and T.I. songs the show offered videos by Canadian cats like Moka Only and Shad(aka Shadrach Kabango), new ish from Busta Rhymes and the video for “You Got Me,” the Roots’ now legendary collaboration with Erykah Badu.

Anyways, in honour of the dopeness of one half of last night’s Rap City, here are some of the show’s best songs. The first is from London, Ontario’s Shad, an ill rapper with killer punchlines. Angry actually saw him live last year, but it was before 4080 so we don’t have any record of it. The song is called “I Don’t Like To,” and if you listen closely to the lyrics your head will explode. Check out this snippet from the first verse:

It’s sad all these wannabees/Wanted to be Jay then K West wannabees/Star of the Rock/Kid you not Sean Connery/But like the Roc(k) I’m surrounded by watery flows

If you’re still conscious after reading that check out the video, then buy The Old Prince.

Shad – I Don’t Like To (The Old Prince, 2007)


Although nothing on the show really compared to that, check out “Search” by Moka Only and some new heat from Busta Rhymes that will have you jumping around waving your arms like Busta in the “Scenario” video.

Moka Only – Search (Vermilion, 2007)

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Busta Rhymes – Don’t Touch Me (Throw Da Water On ‘Em) (I’m Blessed, 2008)

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The Roots Unhappy At Def Jam?

According to recent reports, The Roots are “off to a rough start” at Def Jam, the label they signed with after leaving Geffen. Apparently, the band’s decision to record “Birthday Girl” – a godawful collaboration with Fall Out Boy’s “Patrick Stump” that was dropped from their upcoming album after a poor reception from fans – was motivated by a desire to please Def Jam executives itching for a radio single.

Indeed, despite a critically-acclaimed career that has spanned more than a decade, The Roots have never quite broken through to pop superstardom. In fact, none of their albums have gone platinum, although 1999’s Things Fall Apart came close with 906,000 units sold to date. According to Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson, the group’s drummer, their inability to achieve lasting mainstream success is becoming more of an issue as time wears on: “at a time, it was safe to be The Roots … now as each album goes by, the risk of annihilation becomes closer and closer. That’s why this album [Rising Down] is almost our defining moment.”

Although more than likely an attempt to stir up interest in the new album (“buy Rising Down or we’ll breakup!”), ?uestlove’s comments nevertheless reveal that even the most well respected, artistically principled groups suffer from anxiety about their success.

For more, check out Exclaim! Magazine’s with ?uestlove here.