Audio documentary from 1996 explores the roots of The Roots

Photo by Dominic Digiorgio |

Before they were Jimmy Fallon’s house band, and before they had their own annual picnic along the Deleware River, The Roots were a buzzing Philadelphia hip hop group on the brink of releasing their first major-label record.  That was 1995, and Peabody Award-winning producer Steve Rowland was on site to get the entire career-changing experience on tape.  The Temple University film school graduate was producing a 13-hour audio documentary called “The Music Makers” to examine “the creativity and devotion to music of six influential or visionary contemporary acts.”  Along with the up-and-coming Roots, the series spotlighted Patti LaBelle, Frank Zappa, Carlos Santana, George Clinton and The Neville Brothers.  Speaking to the inclusion of The Roots in the otherwise well-established roster of subjects, Rowland said:

When I was working with them, they were just about to release their first record. At that point, most people aren’t documented because they aren’t famous, and I wanted to explore what that period in a group’s existence is like.

The Roots’ segment, titled “On the Road With The Roots,” followed the young band as they embarked on a tour following the release of Do You Want More?!!!??! on Geffen Records in early 1995. Continue reading →