I only want to say that this album is what I believe to be a very mature one.
One that tackles important questions in the form of poetry on top of "proper" musical instrumentals provided by the other band members. Of course these guys were always musically sharp, having very good albums in the past such as "Things Fall Apart" and "Phrenology", but I believe this to be their best project yet. Now bear in mind, of course, that this is my opinion.
I truly believe this to be one of those albums which reveals itself to be very good on a first listen.
I love The Roots, definitely one of my favourite bands of all time, and god knows I've had a few! This album has a cohesive tone and is, hmm, more obviously 'spiritual' perhaps that some of their other albums, very poignant.
Having no real idea what the Roots mean when they describe their new album "How I got over" as "depicting the everyman's search for hope in this dispiriting post-hope zeitgeist" should not detract you from its brilliance. This seminal Philadelphia hip hop band, formed in the late eighties by Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter and Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson have produced nine fine albums (including an outright classic "Things fall apart") and are about as far from hip hop run of the mill braggadocio as you can get. Indeed check out the comments on the US Amazon site and the words "sell out" and "just make a rock album" are emblazoned on some angry reviews by those who do not like the progression the band is taking. Quite why some music fans want a band to make the same album over and over again remains one of life's great mysteries. Granted we must fully recognise that "rock music" does figure throughout "How I got over" with guest spots from various Dirty Projectors on the truly lovely jazzy opener "A piece of light", and samples drawn from Monsters of Folk and Johanna Newsom (how eclectic is that?), but in the final analysis this is a clearly definable and groundbreaking hip hop album albeit with a melancholy heart and a powerful view about our tough times.
The highlights come fast and thick.
- The sampling of Monsters of Folk "Dear God" works a treat since the Jim James original had a hip hop underpinning which is properly drawn out in The Roots version and the track broadly stays faithful to the original but with a rap which highlights impending ecological and economic disaster. A sort of hip hop "What's goin on"
- "Walk alone" ft Black Thought. Truck North, Porn and Dice Raw starts with loud piano chords, a storming rap and a hook laden chorus that echoes a phrase about "walking alone". It conveys that sort of urban atmosphere that Gil Scott Heron captures so brilliantly on his albums.
- The song "The Fire" featuring John Legend has single written all over it and could be a monster hit.
- You don't think that Joanna Newsom's voice would work in a hip hop song? Check out "Right on" which is classic rap duelling combined with the eerie sample of Newsom interspersing the Roots masters.
- "How I got over" - is a stunning hip hop crossover which sounds like a mix of Steely Dan and Curtis Mayfield. It is truly fabulous and the download starting point for the curious.
- "Now or never" is pure city beats and a rap/soul song of huge force infused with brilliant pop sensibilities.
Not unlike the music of The Roots this review is about highlighting samples but this is no substitute for listening to the unified whole of this exceptionally mature and polished album from a legendary outfit. Over the glorious sunshine weekend of late June 2010 this album has soundtracked just about every move and action in this humble abode and parameters beyond. As an album it clocks in at a relatively short 42 minutes which is almost a "single" when you bear in mind that previous Roots albums have been very long. The great news however is there is not a wasted minute to be found on here and after listening to this album by the these master musicians you sense a bar has been raised which others may not be able to get over.
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Intelligent hip hop that oozes class and real soulful musical ability. The vocals are soulful and the rap is also melodic. The roots are a quality band and totally authentic. They are a refreshing intelligent band that really deliver by successfully combining traditional soul and urban hip hop. Love this band!
They did it again! Roots undoubtably made yet another classic to there extensive collection of 1st class albums. This album has a constant flow into the next track almost like turning a page of a book......a natural progression. A peace of light a suble intro for such skilled musicians, then came Walk alone, the strength in this song, how many of us can relate is beyond words.... a personal journey into track 3 Dear God by this point i am lost for words, the prayer of a troubled man x Radio daze is a strong track, my kids vibe to this one in the car, in this day and age many of us are feeling "the pinch" just cold!!!! At last something to knod ya head to "Now or never", many a man can find inspiration in this track without fail trust me on that!!! "How I got over" is just the business,it's got punch, it lifts ya spirit in a vex sort of way but the beats on it are heavy not to mention the lyrical flow !!! I cant lie I may skip a few as I could be here all day rating the A Team, "The Day" is beautiful and melodical, when my daughter sings the courus it hits home the message in a big way. "Doing it Again" turn your speakers up I tell you, one of my greatest passions about The Roots, every track has been performed live in the studio, I cannot detect a computer or keyboard anywhere me tell you!!! when it comes to percussions, the drumming is off the chart, if I'm wrong they are just too damn good, I love every lyric in this track, the strength that flows from it is remarkable, writing this has left me speechless. These guys are not recognised enough, we as fans, listeners what ever you want to call yourself rate the wrong people. If you can handle seriously concious lyrics over the heaviest beats in hip hop today then pull your fingers out and buy this album,I bet my life savings you would not be disappointed.......seriously XX How I Got Over