By Johnny Kassab | @johnnykassab
Now, I know this review is coming a little late in terms of when the album was released, but I really had to give this one time. Even on their website they said “it might be the one that requires the most deep listening to absorb,” so I really wanted to get a good feel for this album before posting my very first review here.
To start, I’d like to give the much-deserved credit to Romare Bearden for working on the album artwork. One aspect that sticks out throughout all of The Roots’ studio albums is their astonishing artwork. Their artwork ranges from the cool covers, iconic covers, and controversial covers. Yet, their music seems to work well with whatever cover they choose. With all of the different characters and voices used on this album, the collage cover seems especially appropriate.
There are a couple of tracks that sound somewhat familiar as far as past releases from The Roots, but in a good way. Understanding is one that really sticks out, as I am a huge fan of their release Undun that came out December of 2011. The songs have an overall hungry sound to it. The lyrics throughout “…And Then You Shoot Your Cousin” touch on religion, thoughts of the devil, and the struggle of life for a black man. To catch every reference and every emotion in their music, I’d suggest a week at least. This album is leagues deep and covers topics to which many people can relate.
I’m genuinely surprised that The Roots even had the time to put this album out, with their job as the house band for Jimmy Fallon and his recent move to the Tonight Show (bringing The Roots on the Tonight Show with him).
There are a few familiar names that appear on the album, such as Dice Raw and Greg Porn, as well as some notable features, the likes of Patty Crash, Modesty Lycan, Mercedes Martinez, and Raheem DeVaughn. While the instrumental of The Dark will reel you in, the vocals in songs like Never and When The People Cheer will leave you speechless. The Roots really went left field with a few of their tracks, such as The Devil and Dies Irae; those tracks really have to grow on you, and I know that some of their fans won’t particularly like these tracks. Then again, that is the music business. You can’t keep everyone happy.
To sum this album up, if you’re scared of religion in music, get over it. If you enjoy hip-hop and want something that brings new flavor to the table, go download “…And Then You Shoot Your Cousin” right now! Hell, even buy a shirt with the cover art on the front.
4.5 out of 5 power fist afro picks