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Review: The Roots champion innovation on another game-changing LP, …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin

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Romare Bearden’s collage “Pittsburgh Memory,” the cover art for The Roots’ …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin

It’s easy to forget that The Roots spent most of their career in an extremely different place than they are now.

Years of increasing acclaim as a live act and reverence for drummer/producer/ideologue Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s idiosyncratic vision – one that put him and other group members in the nexus of a turn-of-the-millenium revolution with Erykah Badu, D’Angelo, the late great J Dilla, and others – do not measure up to the intense fame and ever-growing public stage that they occupy as Jimmy Fallon’s house band. What could have been the introduction of terrible stasis, in which our beloved home town heroes trade artistic viability for the empty spectacle of primetime fame, ended up being their greatest blessing.

Now, The Roots are a veritable enterprise. They decimated and rebuilt the house band tradition with agility and irreverence. Frontman Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter has continued to stretch his underrated creative muscle as the head of his own side project, an actor, and a philanthropist. Most notably, Questlove has solidified his reputation as the hip hop generation’s main public intellectual by authoring a remarkable memoir and series of critical theory-laced essays on the pop culture vortex that surrounded this group of Philly prodigies and carried them to their current vaulted heights.

Remarkably, they have time for the one thing that every diehard Roots fan was afraid of losing – great, game-changing albums. Three of them, in fact, since they hopped on Fallon’s road to unpredictable success (if you don’t count their handful of flashy, fun collaboration albums). The third of these and their eleventh overall, …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin, officially dropped today via Def Jam. The concept album functions both as a definitive statement and a continuation of the evolution charted since 2010’s How I Got Over. Continue reading →

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Listen to The Roots new record …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin at Pitchfork, get amped for The Roots Picnic

4a28f9aeAs we’re getting our sunscreen and stamina ready for The Roots Picnic on May 31st, we’re also gearing up for the release of …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin, the legendary Philly hip-hop band’s eleventh studio album. The record is out Tuesday, but you can get a sneak preview between now and then by checking out the album streaming in full over at Pitchfork Advance. We’re taking our first spin through right now, and it sounds like the album elegantly recorded and evocatively structured, with hints of everything from 20th century classical (atonal Philip Glass crescendos, what?) to trip-hop (Massive Attack moments) and dubstep (of the Deadmau5 sort) – and of course ?uestlove’s trademark big drum sound. Cousin boasts a freaking cavalcade of people who worked on it, too, including Philly crew The Wurxs, Dice Raw and Greg Porn (check out the full credit list here). The Roots Picnic – featuring The War on Drugs, Janelle Monae, Snoop Dogg and more – happens all day on May 31st at the Festival Pier at Penn’s landing, and tickets / info can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Below, check out the lyric video for “When The People Cheer.”

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Listen to a new song by The Roots, “Tomorrow,’ featuring Raheem DeVaughn

Raheem DeVaughn – Photo courtesy of the artist

The Roots have shared another new song, “Tomorrow,” from their forthcoming album, …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin. The album is out on May 13th. R&B singer Raheem DeVaughn grabs all the spotlight on this mid-tempo feel good song. Based on a simple piano chord progression and a beat that falls just short of a breezy reggae tune, the song has no rapping at all. The beginning of “Tomorrow” opens up some whistling and a lilt that begs comparisons to Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” with the sentiment of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds.”

Listen to “Tomorrow,” today, below. The Roots’ host the 7th Annual Roots Picnic on May 31st at the Festival Pier with Janelle Monaé, War On Drugs, Action Bronson, Rudimental, a DJ set from Biz Markie, A$AP Ferg, Jhené Aiko, araabMUZIK, Just Blaze, Bad Rabbits, Chill Moody, and more.

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Listen to a new Roots song, “When The People Cheer”

Photo via http://www.okayplayer.com/
Photo via http://www.okayplayer.com/

Below, listen to the first new song, “When The People Cheer” from the forthcoming Roots album, …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin. No date has been announced for the release of the album yet, however, Okayplayer did call it a “concept LP/anti-rap opera” album. Greg Porn leads off the song, then Black Thought steps in with his “existential rhymes” over Questlove’s always on point drumming. Check it out below, and don’t miss The Roots Picnic on Saturday, May 31st.

Update: Questlove announced on his instagram that the new Roots album will be released on May 13th.

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Snoop Dogg, Janelle Monae, The War on Drugs and Chill Moody top The Roots 7th annual Roots Picnic lineup

Now in its 7th year, The Roots Picinic will bring an eclectic array of music to Festival Pier on May 31, and the band today revealed everything you need to know about this year’s installment.

The year the legendary hip-hop crew will share the stage with Snoop Dogg (backed by The Roots), as well as Janelle Monáe, Action Bronson, A$AP Ferg, araabMUZIK, The War On Drugs, Rudimental, Jhené Aiko, Biz Markie (DJ Set), Bad Rabbits, Electric Wire Hustle, Chill Moody, Emily Wells, Roman GianArthur & more.

Get tickets when they go onsale this Friday at 10 a.m. on Ticketmaster and watch a few of the latest clips from acts on this year’s incredible lineup below.

Continue reading →

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Chill Moody pays tribute to The Roots’ 1999 classic Things Fall Apart LP in new track

Photo courtesy of the artist
Photo courtesy of the artist

It’s been 15 years since The Roots released what is widely considered their breakthrough record Things Fall Apart. The album earned them two Grammy nomination, a top 40 hit (“You Got Me” featuring Erykah Badu and Eve), and platinum status.

To honor the local legends’ milestone, Philly emcee Chill Moody packs quite the lyrical punch on his new track “nicethings Fall Apart” delivering rhymes that detail his thirst for success over a selection of beats drawn from The Roots’ 1999 classic.

Ever the local favorite, fans recently named Moody the Indie Hip-Hop Artist of the Year at this year’s Tri-State Indie Music Awards where he also performed. Listen to “nicethings Fall Apart” below.

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Barry Gibb jams with The Roots

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(L-R) Robin, Maurice and Barry via http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2356426/Barry-Gibb-tells-guilt-remorse-loneliness-the-Bee-Gees.html

Bee Gee Barry Gibb has announced a limited six-city tour with a stop at the Wells Fargo Center on May 19th. The lead singer of the Bee Gees was on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon last week, jamming with The Roots on “You Should Be Dancing.” Gibb’s a little rough around the vocal edges, but the band swings and it’s good to hear the disco side of ?uestlove’s drumming.

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Listen to Questlove and Elvis Costello discuss the birth of Wise Up Ghost on WFUV and XPN’s World Cafe

Photo by Tamara Weber
Photo by Tamara Weber

Fordham University’s WFUV recently sat down with Philly’s own Questlove (The Roots) and Elvis Costello to discuss how their collaborative LP, Wise Up Ghost came to fruition earlier this year. Music lovers were given something to look forward to once news of the unlikely pairing began to surface. Upon release, the album was rightfully praised as it surpassed expectations. Listen here. Watch them perform “Wise Up Ghost” below. The band also appeared on World Cafe with David Dye this fall. Listen to that interview by clicking below.

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The Roots and Miley Cyrus get adorable on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

the-roots-miley-late-night-jimmy-leadPhiladelphia darlings The Roots teamed up with Miley Cyrus last night on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon to rework her hit single “We Can’t Stop” into an a capella affair coupled with a Brady Bunch inspired visual display of all nine performers (Jimmy included). The band managed to tame the twerk anthem with vocal percussion and impressive harmonies. Is there anything that The Roots can’t groove to? You decide below.