Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Rhymes: Album Review: The Roots - How I Got Over

Published in the BG News
On Nov. 17, ?uestlove and The Roots shocked the hip-hop world when they announced that they were going to retire from touring and work full-time as the house band for Jimmy Fallon's Late Night Talk Show. This was only a few months after they released their rumored final album, "Rising Down." It seemed like Jimmy Fallon was about to put an end to hip hop's greatest band.

"Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" aired its first episode on March 2 and showcased Black Thought (Vocals), ?uestlove (Drummer) and company. Shortly after that, ?uestlove announced on his Twitter account that The legendary Roots crew would indeed release their ninth studio album (third album on Def Jam Records), "How I Got Over."

After several delays, "How I Got Over" finally hit the shelves. The group's latest effort showcases a much more optimistic sound than their previous two records, which had bleak, political subject material. "How I Got Over" features the Philadelphia band's triumph, directly influenced by the end of the Bush Administration and the election of Barack Obama.

The piano driven opener, "Walk Alone" is a very different sound from the synth-driven "Rising Down." "Dear God 2.0" features a sample from Jim James and Monsters of Folk, and Black Thought delivers some of the most introspective lyrics of his career. In the song, Black Thought asks, "Why is the world ugly when it's made in your image and why is living life such a fight to the finish?" The title track and first single from the album has a much different feel to it than any of their previous efforts, as Black Thought sings two verses on the songs. 

On "Now or Never," Thought declares that he is "thinking of making a change, finally breaking the chains" and that he's "ready for the next chapter and page." The positive inspiration messages continue with songs like "The Day" and "The Fire," in which John Legend makes a guest appearance and sings, "You don't say good luck, you say don't give up." 

"How I Got Over" is unquestionably in the top tier of Roots records over their storied 17-year career. The album consists of flawless sequencing and transitions making the 14-track album sound like one piece of musical brilliance. The Legendary Roots Crew has successfully made it from hip-hop to 30 Rock, without missing a beat along the way. Through all the label problems, the lack of mainstream attention and poor record sales, with a little help from Jimmy Fallon, The Roots have finally "Made it Over."

BRL Rating: 10 out 0f 10 Beets

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