The Roots – Phrenology
A Study in Organic Hip-Hop
On their 1995 LP “Do You Want More?!”, The Roots proclaimed that you were about to bear witness to some “organic hip-hop”, a sound that seems to have not faltered, watered down nor has it been corrupted by the bling-bling virus that has plagued hip-hop music today. As a unit, the Philadelphia sextet functions beautifully by trading off each others rhythms and vibes to create a unified sound and with each member showcasing their talent with such brilliance that it’s almost impossible to focus on each individual section of the band.First and foremost, frontman Black Thought is arguably one of the most skilled and thought-provoking lyricists out there today. On “Thought@Work”, Thought?s seemless flow is complimented by the funky breakbeat stylings of drummer Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson who, in turn, lays down the solid beat foundation that transcends through the album. As a whole, “Phrenology” is a bold, and at times difficult, piece of work. Although most of their experimentations work to their advantage (the collaborations with Jill Scott and Musiq are winners), some seem a little out of place (particularly the 24-second Bad Brains tribute oddly titled “!!!!!”). While The Roots continue to take their combination of abstract hip-hop and rock-n-roll to new heights, “Phrenology” and their future work will be an artistic statement that will lay the foundation for bigger and brighter things to come.
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