Results for The Roots

interviews

Jeff Chang

Jeff Chang, author of Can‘t Stop, Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation, joins Jim and Greg in the studio this week. Jeff, who co-founded the Quannum Label in San Francisco, was on the show previously when his book first came out, and he and our hosts engaged in a discussion of hip-hop's history. Now that Jeff's book has come out on paperback, Jim and Greg welcome him back to the show to discuss where hip-hop is today and where it is going. In order to get a sense of hip-hop's diverse makeup, the three music journalists decide to embark on a geographical tour of the genre, beginning with Chicago and working their way through the United States, and even the U.K.

Go to episode 15

Common

This week on the show Jim and Greg meet with rapper Common, who happens to be visiting his hometown. Common is currently touring to promote his sixth (and, some would say, best) album, Be. Jim and Greg note that most hip-hop artists don‘t have his kind of longevity. In fact, Common is at an age where he has started to balance his career with fatherhood. Greg, who visited the set of Common’s sultry video shoot for the song "Go," asks him how he‘ll be able to present his more adult side to his daughter. Fans of Common’s videos should also check out his most recent, and most cinematic, "Testify."

Common actually performs "Testify" live for our hosts. This song was produced by longtime collaborator and fellow southsider Kanye West, and includes the producer's signature use of soul samples. For Be, Common also worked with ?uestlove of The Roots and rapper and producer J Dilla, who passed away just weeks before this interview. Dilla, or Jay Dee, has been a mainstay on the hip-hop scene, producing songs for De La Soul, Pharcyde, Janet Jackson, and D'Angelo. Dilla also worked with Common on Like Water For Chocolate, producing one of his biggest hits, "The Light." As Common explains, the loss of his friend and former roommate will be life-changing. And in his memory, the rapper does some freestyling over Dilla instrumentals — a first for Sound Opinions.

Go to episode 26
reviews
Rising Down (Bonus Version)Rising Down available on iTunes

The Roots Rising Down

Hip hop group The Roots released its 10th album this week, Rising Down. The band started out with a more neo-soul vibe, but as Greg points out, over the years The Roots have gotten a lot harder and edgier. Some of the album's songs are downright creepy, and Greg loves ?uestlove's drumming. But he can't go so far as to give it a Buy It. Jim has loved a number of Roots' albums, especially 1999's Things Fall Apart, but he finds their efforts inconsistent. This time around The Roots called in a number of guest stars, but Jim wishes they had stuck to their own members. Rising Down has some good moments, but both critics can only give it a Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 127
UndunUndun available on iTunes

The Roots Undun

After over a decade of music-making, Philadelphia quintet The Roots have earned a reputation as the best live band in hip hop. They've put out ten studio records, backed artists like D'Angelo and Erykah Badu, and rule the airwaves every night as Jimmy Fallon's house band. Has this caused the quality to drop off on the group's latest release Undun? Greg says not a bit. He named the record his second favorite of 2011 and he's not backing down. He especially wants to call out DJ Black Thought for some overdue props; Greg ranks him up there with Jay-Z. He says Buy it. Jim agrees, but unlike Greg, he's not loving the four-part classical suite that closes the album. It's beautiful, but out of place. In fact, the self-consciousness of the whole story underlying Undun - the rise and fall of a street kid - puts Jim off. It's a Buy It album, but not the band's best.

JimGreg
Go to episode 319
How I Got OverHow I Got Over available on iTunes

The Roots How I Got Over

If country music isn‘t your thing, maybe you’re a hip hop fan. The Roots have released a new album called How I Got Over. It's the Philly group's first record since becoming the house band for Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. The Roots have always had a great reputation as a live act, but Jim thinks that gives short shrift to their terrific recordings. This is a dark album, but also really inspirational, especially towards the end. Jim gives How I Got Over a Buy It rating. Greg agrees, adding that MC "Black Thought" and drummer "Questlove" are as strong as ever. The Roots get a double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 241
Wake Up!Wake Up! available on iTunes

The Roots Wake Up!

During the Obama campaign R&B singer John Legend and hip hop group The Roots were inspired by the African-American community's rich tradition of socially conscious protest music. So they decided to put together an album of covers of these funk, soul and reggae gems called Wake Up! Legend and The Roots really show their encyclopedic knowledge of music with their choices, which, Greg notes, are not the big hits by artists like Donny Hathaway and Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. He appreciates that scholarship and hopes this will turn a new generation on to these artists. But, his main issue is that they don't transcend the original. So he gives Wake Up! a Burn It rating. Jim has major problems with Legend's vocal performance, which doesn't match the emotional content of the songs. He wonders if he has a“tin ear”and gives the record a Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 251
Game Theory (Bonus Track Version)Game Theory available on iTunes

The Roots Game Theory

Philadelphia hip-hop group The Roots have an album up for review entitled Game Theory. The rappers and musicians largely changed the way hip-hop was perceived by incorporating live instrumentation and rock-style jams into their recordings and performances. Greg has always been a fan, and loves songs like the dark track "In the Music," but doesn‘t think the record is consistent enough. There’s an entire eight minutes of music dedicated to the recently departed producer J Dilla that he can't really excuse—so he gives it a Burn It. Jim believes Game Theory is the best record the group has done since 1999's Things Fall Apart. He loves the dark tone of the record and emotional content of the lyrics, and doles out a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 39
Lay It DownLay It Down available on iTunes

Al Green Lay It Down

Lay It Down is the latest release from Reverend Al Green. The Memphis-based soul singer collaborated with Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson of The Roots for the album, which also features guest spots from Anthony Hamilton and Corinne Bailey Rae. Jim notes that Green could sing the phone book and make it compelling… and his lyrics are about as interesting as that. He's trying to sing love songs, but whether they are about earthly or divine love is unclear. Greg agrees that the material is not very strong, but Green's amazing voice overcomes it. Both Jim and Greg think Lay It Down is worth a listen and give the album a Try It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 130
Wise Up GhostWise Up Ghost available on iTunes

Elvis Costello & The Roots Wise Up Ghost

Some artist's choice of musical collaborators can either be a match made in heaven, or a deal made with the devil. English singer/songwriter Elvis Costello's lengthy career has got plenty of both. Jim thinks Costello's latest album, Wise Up Ghost, with legendary hip-hop group The Roots, is another miss—a clunky exercise in genre busting with Costello too far out of his element. Jim can hardly wait to Trash It. Greg is less annoyed with the looseness of the album, finding Costello and The Roots more or less in sync, and the songwriting strong enough in the first half of the album to keep the whole thing afloat. Greg says Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 410
dijs

Greg

“The Seed (2.0)”Cody Chesnutt,The Roots

Soul singer Cody Chesnutt has a new album out, reminding Greg that he's often left off the list of masterful vocalists. This is most evident on his 2002 album The Headphone Masterpiece. In fact, The Roots were such fans they re-worked his song "The Seed" into "The Seed (2.0)." and released it as part of their album Phrenology. Greg takes it with him to the desert island this week.

Go to episode 364
lists

The Best Albums of 2010

It's the moment all music fans wait for…the end of the year best-of list!

Go to episode 263

Best Albums of 2011

Go to episode 315

The Best Songs of 2011 - Mixtapes

As 2011 comes to a close, it's a great time to think about the songs that defined the year. Jim and Greg have compiled their favorite songs into mixtapes. During the show you'll hear a small selection, but luckily you can stream both mixes in their entirety. And you can make your own.

Happy New Year from Sound Opinions!

Go to episode 318

Songs About Time

Ready to rock around the clock? This week, Jim and Greg play their favorite Songs About Time.

Go to episode 537

Greg's Mixtape: A Curse I Cannot Lift

  1. Lindsey Buckingham, "I Am Waiting." A cover of a relatively obscure Rolling Stones track from "Aftermath" sets the mood of sunrise expectation and apprehension.“I am waiting … waiting for someone to come out of somewhere.”
  2. Midlake, "Roscoe." An echo from Lindsey Buckingham's past? The sound is mid-'70s Fleetwood Mac: dusky folk-rock. I can imagine Christine McVie doing a perfect cover of this song. The song is set in 1891, like a dream about a more innocent time.
  3. The Decemberists, "The Crane Wife 3." Still in the past, still dreaming, but the innocence turns to despair.
  4. Dirty on Purpose, "Car No-Drive." Wake up. Morning rush hour. This song sounds like it's pouring from the windows of a passing subway train. We're going somewhere…
  5. Rhymefest, "Bullet." To Iraq. Turn on the TV, and we see young recruits wondering how they ended up in a desert in the Middle East fighting a war they don't understand.
  6. Serena-Maneesh, "Drain Cosmetics." A sandstorm of guitars.
  7. Secret Machines, "Lightning Blue Eyes." Then tunneling out, and into the sunlight where "I felt awake, I was way out."
  8. Parts and Labor, "A Great Divide." A call to arms, a dividing line in the mix, day becomes night.
  9. TV on the Radio, "Wolf Like Me." Silhouettes dash against the moon —“Got a curse I cannot lift.”
  10. The Roots, "In the Music." A sinister night vibe, as low-riders slink through skyscraper canyons.
  11. Nelly Furtado, "Maneater." Where all sorts of nightcrawlers roam …
  12. Justin Timberlake, "What Goes Around/Comes Around." And a reckoning goes down — "I can‘t believe it’s ending this way."
  13. Van Hunt, "If I Take You Home." The night winds down, uneasy partners match up…
  14. Love is All, "Make Out Fall Out Make Up." The hangover aftermath —"I think I'll spend all day in bed."
  15. Gnarls Barkley, "Gone Daddy Gone." "Love is gone away."
  16. John Legend, "Show Me." A morning prayer for guidance.
  17. Beyoncé, "Irreplaceable." And she's ready to move on, a new day begins…
Go to episode 56
news

Music News

Changes are afoot at Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Not only will Donna Summer, Rush, and Public Enemy take their places in the Hall this April, but the institution also has a new CEO. Greg Harris started his career at the Baseball Hall of Fame, and assumed the Rock Hall's top job this January. The appointment earned him a shout-out from none other than The Roots' drummer Questlove, who whiled away his youth combing the bins at Harris's record store, the Philadelphia Record Exchange. Harris talks to Jim and Greg about the Rock Hall's notoriously-secretive induction process, why he doesn't mind Johnny Rotten bashing the Hall, and why Rush fans are the most polite fans in rock.

Go to episode 381