16 Songs, 51 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Let’s face it: The Roots are not looking to supply the beats for your backyard barbecue. This is deadly serious music — angry, disturbed, gloomy, urgent, raw, and fearless. Led by the always adventurous ?uestlove, the band puts most of the pieces together (hip-hop, rock, psychedelic soul) in just the right way, balancing the cohesiveness of earlier albums with the daringness of later ones. Black Thought offers consistently pointed verses, and a bevy of guest rappers — including Common, Talib Kweli, and old pal Malik B — help pound home the message. “I ain’t tryin’ to clown,” Black Thought insists (as if he had to tell us) atop the slinky, slightly ominous grooves of the title track, which features sharp rhymes from Mos Def and Styles P. The filthy, menacing “Get Busy” pierces with relentless electro-fuzz beats, and the coolly defiant “I Will Not Apologize” soars atop a supple Fela Kuti sample. The gloom finally lifts a bit on the jazzy “Rising Up,” which almost feels like an antiquated nod to the group’s more polished, smoothly flowing vibe of the previous decade. Clearly, though, times have changed, and the Roots’ dismal, near-apocalyptic vision of corrupt politicians, natural disasters, economic hardship, and rampant violence may not be pleasant, but it doesn’t seem too far off the mark either.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Let’s face it: The Roots are not looking to supply the beats for your backyard barbecue. This is deadly serious music — angry, disturbed, gloomy, urgent, raw, and fearless. Led by the always adventurous ?uestlove, the band puts most of the pieces together (hip-hop, rock, psychedelic soul) in just the right way, balancing the cohesiveness of earlier albums with the daringness of later ones. Black Thought offers consistently pointed verses, and a bevy of guest rappers — including Common, Talib Kweli, and old pal Malik B — help pound home the message. “I ain’t tryin’ to clown,” Black Thought insists (as if he had to tell us) atop the slinky, slightly ominous grooves of the title track, which features sharp rhymes from Mos Def and Styles P. The filthy, menacing “Get Busy” pierces with relentless electro-fuzz beats, and the coolly defiant “I Will Not Apologize” soars atop a supple Fela Kuti sample. The gloom finally lifts a bit on the jazzy “Rising Up,” which almost feels like an antiquated nod to the group’s more polished, smoothly flowing vibe of the previous decade. Clearly, though, times have changed, and the Roots’ dismal, near-apocalyptic vision of corrupt politicians, natural disasters, economic hardship, and rampant violence may not be pleasant, but it doesn’t seem too far off the mark either.

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