Over the last two and a half decades, we have gone through an astounding range of sounds, subject matter, and drumsticks. From the humble beginnings of the early 90’s and Do You Want More?!!!??!, to the album Phrenology that got me hooked, The Legendary Roots crew has been nothing short of that.
And now here we are, just days after the release of the groups’ eleventh studio album, How I Got Over. Themed as just that, I have tagged this album as the comeback album of the year, if not the last ten. For me personally, I felt like it came along at the perfect time for the hard times that I and millions of other people of all races, religions, and ages are going through. Yeah I know it sounds farfetched, but let’s give credit where it’s due.
The usual crew is here, with the new additions Tuba Gooding Jr. on the Sousaphone and Owen Biddle on the bass getting a better moment to shine. Another strong contender on the album musically was Kamal Gray. I feel like as time goes on, he becomes a stronger presence in the band. Also as most of you know, The Roots have been the house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon since March of last year, and have since proved themselves as the most badass house band in history. How I Got Over is debatably my favorite Roots album thus far, with an impressive (albeit odd) array of guest stars jumping on tracks.
But I’ll end the digression, and talk about How I Got Over and how it helped me do just that. The weight and tone of this album is very political, calling out a certain shitty president, and giving praise to another. Also the ghetto is red hot, and the crew is still stepping on flames all over the track with a few new friends that I never thought would be doing collaboration with the crew.
Those mega-cuties from Dirty Projectors kicked the album off with their acapella harmony in A Peace of Light, as the band one by one jumped into the groove before bleeding into the deep and dark lyric second track, Walk Alone.
God 2.0 was a favorite of mine, with super group Monsters of Folk providing the chorus vocals and instrumentals. Blackthought takes the time on this track to give us a state of the world all while easily rhyming over a dozen lines in his flow. There’s something to be said about an MC being able to do what he did on this track, as he stayed relevant, and just plain asked a plethora of good questions for the big guy above.
Musically, the best track on the album easily goes to the tenth track, Doin’ It Again. The band perfectly samples the sultry sound from the John Legend track Again. Questlove held it down throughout the song, with Blackthought going harder on his rhymes than he’s gone in many an album.
Overall though, my favorite track was the eighth track, The Day. Both Blu and Phonte jump on this track, with the lovely blonde songstress Patty Crash singing the chorus. The game these rappers bring to the table with Blackthought made this an essential groove for the summer; trying to push through working through the beautiful weather of Los Angeles. It’s a song about change, something we all need a little bit of. The lyric that stuck out to me the most came from Phonte saying: “Even a three legged dog still has three good legs to lose”. Too true.
For you new Roots listeners, understand that this is an album unlike anything they have done before, with guests that most rap lovers have never heard of. What I like about that though, is the subtle stab at getting you to check out what say, Joanna Newsom is up to.
For the long time fans, the Legendary Roots crew hasn’t even come close to losing their edge, and will probably find this album more enjoyable than their last few albums. I’m still debating if it’s the best album of theirs, but it’s definitely my favorite since Thing Fall Apart. There’s too much for me to speak on in one feature, but as always, you shouldn’t take my word for it. Go get it.
Until next time my friends,