The Roots: Undun

I am a huge Jimmy Fallon fan. I think I watch his show every single night possible, which usually turns out to be actually every night. The Roots have been doing some songs lately off of their new album between commercial breaks, and they performed a whole one last night at the end of the show, so I figured this should get a listen – especially since I’ve only ever listened to one of their albums. Tonight we’re going to listen to Undun by The Roots.

If you’ve watched any second of Late Night while these dudes have been playing, you know how talented they are. It’s nearly ridiculous. Tariq is so multi-talented as a vocalist and he comes to the forefront in Sleep. Not only does he have a beautiful singing voice, he can rap better than most of the ones you hear on the front lines of rap music today. This song is not the regular rap song you would think of. It’s a lot slower and there are some interesting things going on with sound effects woven into the music.

I would say that this album has a great guest lineup, but I have to say I don’t know any of the ones who show up. One Time is the first track on the album that I would listen to on more than one occasion for sure (and it’s not because of the Comic Con line!). This one boasts guests Phonte and Dice Raw, but Tariq still tears it up.

The Roots get down with their R&B and soul sides with Kool On. I really don’t think there’s a genre that could classify these guys besides “Really Amazing Music.”

Stomp almost reminds me of a track off Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasty musically. The guitar on this track is off the chain.

Wikipedia tells me that this was a concept album (and The Roots first stab at one) and I can feel that through the music. Even though I didn’t pay 110% attention to the lyrics to see if the story fits, I can feel it through the tunes. The basic gist goes like this: their “semi-fictional” character Redford Stephens is placed in a position where he has to decide between making something of himself and living a life of fast money and crime. Apparently he chooses the latter. The song that most sticks out to me with this theme is Tip The Scale, which sounds like a beautified inner struggle. These lyrics I did pay close attention to and for me, the story reaches its climax point with this track.

The last three songs, Possibility (2nd Movement), Will To Power (3rd Movement), and Finality (4th movement) are strictly instrumental and by the end of Finality, there’s such a dark undertone that you can tell the character chooses the dark path.

What a solid album from such an incredible band. If you’ve only heard them on Late Night, I suggest you get at this.
Key Tracks
Tip The Scale (track 10)
Stomp (track 7)
One Time (track 4)

 

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