What Part of the Game Is That: What Happened To The Roots?!?!?!?!?!?

Posted On Saturday, January 26, 2013

I don't mess with the Roots. Well, let me clarify that, when they first dropped, I didn't mess with them. One of my peoples passed me a copy of their first independent album "Organix" and to be honest, I wasn't feeling it at all. They just weren't hard enough for me, I didn't get the whole live band thing and I felt like the whole jazz thing in hip hop was played out. Even when Tribe and Gangstarr were using jazz samples, I felt like they were just "harder" then what cats like Digable Planets and The Roots were coming with. And not "harder" like "I shoot up the block" hard but more so "harder" drums. When "Do You Want More" their debut on Geffen records dropped, I messed with a handful of songs on it but I didn't hear enough to make me a fan. Then one day while I was in a session with my man Circus he was telling me that The Roots were flipping their whole steelo and they were gonna be coming harder for their next album and that Black Thought was changing his name to the Bad Lieutenant and I was like "yeah, we'll see."

Fast forward a couple of months and I'm opening the mail at WEAA Morgan State's radio station, which USED to be like Christmas everyday for us to see what the labels had sent us and I came across the new Root's 12" with a letter from Geffen attached asking us to vote on what song should be the first single, "Sections" or "Clones." And once I listened to both songs, I saw exactly what my dude Circ was talking about. These weren't the same cats from the first album. It was almost like these cats had heard EVERY complaint that I (and probably a rack of other cats, hence the change) had about them and went back to the lab to fix them. The band who once bragged about "no samples" now had a song sampling Quincy Jone's "Summer in the City" for "Clones" and the beat for "Sections" was also crazy. My vote went to "Sections" but of course I got out voted cause "Clones" ended up being the single but I wasn't mad at it cause after hearing these two jawns I was almost on the edge of being a fan. And when "IladelphHalflife" dropped it was a wrap, I was all in. I remember the Source giving it 4.5 mics and me being pissed cause I KNEW it deserved 5 mics. The album was SO dope that even my NYC peoples who constantly beat me in the head about Philly hip hop being wack were on board with that it. Thought was on his "Bad Lieutenant" jawn and Malik B did his best Phife imitation from being "aiight" on the first album but absolutely KILLING it on the 2nd album. Malik stepped his game up BIG TIME! Matter of fact, Malik's solo jawn "No Great Pretender" is my favorite track on the album. And to be honest, I KNEW they couldn't top "Illadelph" but "Things Fall Apart" damn sure came close to it and not for nuthin' but "You Got Me" is one of my favorite songs EVER!

But after that, it was like things REALLY fell apart. None of The Root's releases after "Things Fall Apart" really caught me like that again. Now don't get it twisted, "Phrenology", "The Tipping Point", "Game Theory", "Rising Down" and "How I Got Over" all had some jawns on them that I messed with but I can't honestly say I can take any of those albums, throw them in the CD player and sit back and enjoy them like I did with "Illadelph" and "Things Fall Apart." So what happened? My take on it comes down to two things, #1, being that the main thing that made me fall in love with The Roots in the first place was that "boom bap" sound they added in the mix for "Illadelph" which seemed to disappear after "Things Fall Apart." During those two albums they were using more boom bap oriented producers like Chaos and Kelo while still reaching out to cats like Q Tip, J Dilla and the Beatminerz. (Evil Dee and Walt did remixes for "Proceed" and "Silent Treatment" and can you really get more boom bap then the Beatminerz?) But after "TFA" it's like everything became in house under Quest and when that happened, the sound I loved from the Roots...changed. #2, The Roots change members like it's going out of style. Let's look at how many members have left the crew. (and I'm sure I'm leaving out at least 25 more) Scott Storch (yup, THAT Scott Storch who was their original keyboard player who got replaced by Kamal and who produced their biggest hit "You Got Me"... there goes that outside production again), Leonard Hubbard (their original bass player) Rahzel (their original beat box), Scratch (their beat box who replaced Rahzel), Ben Kenney (their guitar player), Owen Biddle (their bass player who replaced Leonard Hubbard) and most importantly Malik B. Malik and Thought had a chemistry that I messed with big time! Not to mention with "Illadelph" I was feeling ALL of Malik's verses as well as his solo jawns and now that part of the group is gone.

So for me, between their sound changing and most importantly Malik leaving the group, I think that's what sunk the ship called The Roots for me. But don't get it twisted, I'm still a fan. I've supported the group by buying EVERY one of their CD's (and with "TFA" I actually went out and copped all 5 of the different album covers) that have dropped. Yup, I even copped "Undun" AND "And Then You Shoot Your Cousin" so you KNOW I'm a true fan. So with all of that said, I decided to put together a mix of what I like to call "Those Other Albums" which highlights the songs off "those other albums" that I do mess with.

1 comment

  1. I gotta disagree here. Seems like the love fell off when the hits stopped. Free of corporate radio the group really stretched its songwriting. What active hip hop act outside of Hova has the discography ?


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