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The Roots

One of the most prolific rap groups, the Roots were also among the most progressive acts in contemporary music, from their 1993 debut through their conceptual 2010s releases. Despite the seemingly archaic practice of functioning as a rap band with several instrumentalists -- from 2007 onward, their lineup even featured a sousaphonist -- they were ceaselessly creative, whether with their own material, or through their varied assortment of collaborations. They went platinum and gold with successive studio releases and won a handful of Grammy awards. After they gained a nightly nationwide audience through a close partnership with television host Jimmy Fallon, they continued to challenge listeners with works free of genre restrictions.

The Roots' focus on live music began back in 1987, when rapper Black Thought (Tariq Trotter) and drummer ?uestlove (Ahmir Khalib Thompson) became friends at the Philadelphia High School for Creative Performing Arts. Playing around school, on the sidewalk, and later at talent shows (with ?uestlove's drum kit backing Black Thought's rhymes), the pair began to earn money and hooked up with bassist Hub (Leon Hubbard) and rapper Malik B. Moving from the street to local clubs, the Roots became a highly tipped underground act around Philadelphia and New York. When they were invited to represent stateside hip-hop at a concert in Germany, the Roots recorded an album to sell at shows; the result, Organix, was released in May 1993 on Remedy Records. With a music industry buzz surrounding their activities, the Roots entertained offers from several labels before signing with DGC that same year.

The Roots' first major-label album, Do You Want More?!!!??!, was released in January 1995. Forsaking usual hip-hop protocol, the album was produced without any samples or previously recorded material. It peaked just outside the Top 100 of the Billboard 200 and made more tracks in alternative circles, partly due to the Roots playing the second stage at Lollapalooza that summer. The band also journeyed to the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. Two of the guests on the album who had toured around with the band, human beatbox Rahzel the Godfather of Noyze -- previously a performer with Grandmaster Flash and LL Cool J -- and Scott Storch (later replaced by Kamal Gray), became permanent members of the group.

Early in 1996, the Roots released "Clones," the trailer single for their second album. It hit the rap Top Five, and created a good buzz. That September, Illadelph Halflife appeared and made number 21 on the Billboard 200. Much like its predecessor, though, the Roots' second LP was a difficult listen. It made several very small concessions to mainstream rap -- the bandmembers sampled material that they had recorded earlier at jam sessions -- but failed to make a hit of their unique sound. Their third album, February 1999's Things Fall Apart, was easily their biggest critical and commercial success. Released on MCA, It went platinum, and "You Got Me" -- a collaboration with Erykah Badu -- peaked within the Top 40 and subsequently won a Grammy in the category of Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.

The long-awaited Phrenology was released in November 2002 amid rumors of the Roots losing interest in their label arrangements with MCA. In 2004, the band remedied the situation by creating the Okayplayer company. Named after their website, Okayplayer included a record label and a production/promotion company. The same year, the band held a series of jam sessions to give their next album a looser feel. The results were edited down to ten tracks and released as The Tipping Point, supported by Geffen, in July of 2004. A 2004 concert from Manhattan's Webster Hall with special guests like Mobb Deep, Young Gunz, and Jean Grae was released in February 2005 as The Roots Present in both CD and DVD formats. Two volumes of the rarities-collecting Home Grown! The Beginner's Guide to Understanding the Roots appeared at the end of the year.

A subsequent deal with Def Jam fostered a series of riveting, often grim sets, beginning with Game Theory (August 2006) and Rising Down (April 2008). In 2009, the group expanded its reach as the exceptionally versatile house band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The new gig didn't slow their recording schedule; in 2010 alone, they released the sharp How I Got Over (June), as well as Wake Up! (September), where they backed John Legend on covers of socially relevant soul classics like Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes' "Wake Up Everybody" and Donny Hathaway's "Little Ghetto Boy." It earned Grammy awards for Best R&B Album and Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance. As they remained with Fallon, the Roots worked with Miami soul legend Betty Wright on November 2011's Betty Wright: The Movie, and followed it the next month with their 13th studio album, Undun, an ambitious concept album whose main character dies in the first track and then follows his life backward.

Work on the group's next studio album was postponed as an unexpected duet album with Elvis Costello took priority for the group in 2013. Originally planned as a reinterpretation of Costello's songbook, the album Wise Up Ghost turned into a full-fledged collaboration and was greeted by positive reviews upon its September 2013 release on Blue Note. Within six months, the band joined Jimmy Fallon in his new late-night slot, the high-profile Tonight Show program. Another concept album, the brief but deep ...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin, was released in May 2014. ~ John Bush & Andy Kellman
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: How I Got Over (Explicit)

1. A Peace Of Light

2. Walk Alone

3. Dear God 2.0

4. Radio Daze

5. Now Or Never

6. How I Got Over

7. Dillatude: The Flight Of Titus

8. The Day

9. Right On

10. Doin' It Again

11. The Fire

12. Tunnel Vision

13. Web 20/20

14. Hustla

x

Track List: Rising Down (Explicit)

1. The Pow Wow

2. Rising Down

3. Get Busy

5. 75 Bars (Black's Reconstruction)

6. Becoming Unwritten

7. Criminal

8. I Will Not Apologize

9. I Can't Help It

10. Singing Man

11. Unwritten

12. Lost Desire

13. The Show

14. Rising Up

x

Track List: Game Theory (Explicit)

1. Dilltastic Vol Won(derful)

2. False Media

3. Game Theory

4. Don't Feel Right

5. In The Music

6. Take It There

7. Baby

8. Here I Come

9. Long Time

10. Livin' In A New World

11. Clock With No Hands

12. Atonement

13. Can't Stop This

x

Track List: The Tipping Point

1. Star / Pointro

2. I Don't Care

3. Don't Say Nuthin'

4. Guns Are Drawn

5. Stay Cool

6. Web

7. Boom!

8. Somebody's Gotta Do it

9. Duck Down!

10. Why (What's Goin On?)

x

Track List: Phrenology (Explicit)

2. Rock You

3. !!!!!!!

4. Sacrifice

5. Rolling With Heat

6. WAOK (AY) Rollcall

7. Thought @ Work

8. The Seed 2.0

9. Break You Off

10. Water

11. Quills

12. P**sy Galore

14. Something In The Way Of Things (In Town)

x

Track List: The Roots Come Alive

1. Live At The T-Connection (Live)

2. The Next Movement (Live)

3. Step Into The Realm (Live)

4. Proceed (Live)

5. Mellow My Man / Jusufckwithis (Live)

6. Love Of My Life (Live)

7. The Ultimate (Live)

8. Don't See Us (Live)

9. 100% Dundee (Live)

10. Adrenaline! (Live)

11. Essaywhuman?! (Live)

12. Silent Treatment (Live)

13. The Notic (Live)

14. You Got Me (Live)

15. What You Want (Live)

16. We Got You (Live)

17. The Lesson Part III (It's Over Now) (Live)

x

Track List: Things Fall Apart

1. Act Won (Things Fall Apart)

2. Table Of Contents (Parts 1 & 2)

3. The Next Movement

4. Step Into The Realm

5. The Spark

6. Dynamite!

7. Without A Doubt

8. Ain't Sayin' Nothin' New

9. Double Trouble

10. Act Too (The Love Of My Life)

11. 100% Dundee

12. Diedre Vs. Dice

13. Adrenaline!

14. 3rd Act: ? Vs. Scratch

15. You Got Me

16. Don't See Us

17. The Return To Innocence Lost

18. Act Four . . The End ?

x

Track List: Illadelph Halflife (Explicit)

1. Intro

2. Respond/React

3. Section

4. Panic!!!!!

5. It Just Don't Stop

6. Episodes

7. Push Up Ya Lighter

8. What They Do

10. Concerto Of The Desperado

11. Clones

12. Universe At War

13. No Alibi

14. Dave Vs. Us

15. No Great Pretender

16. The Hypnotic

17. Ital (The Universal Side)

18. One Shine

19. The Adventures In Wonderland

20. Outro

x

Track List: Do You Want More?!!!??!

1. Intro/ There's Something Goin' On

2. Proceed

3. Distortion To Static

4. Mellow My Man

5. I Remain Calm

6. Datskat

7. Lazy Afternoon

8. ? Vs. Rahzel

9. Do You Want More?!!!??!

11. Essaywhuman?!!!??!

12. Swept Away

13. You Ain't Fly

14. Silent Treatment

x

Track List: Organix (Explicit)

1. The Roots Is Comin'

2. Pass The Popcorn

3. Anti-Circle

4. Writers Block

6. Good Music

7. Grits

8. Leonard I-V

9. I'm Out Deah

11. There's A Riot Going On

12. Popcorn Revisited

13. Peace

14. Common Dust

15. The Session (Longest Posse Cut In History, 12:43)

16. Syreeta's Having My Baby

17. Carryin' On

x

Track List: Champion (Single) (Explicit)

x

Track List: Dear God 2.0 (Radio Single)

1. Dear God 2.0

x

Track List: Don't Feel Right

x

Track List: Home Grown! The Beginners Guide To The Roots (Explicit)

1. No Hometro / Proceed 2

3. What They Do

4. The Next Movement

5. Good Music

6. The Lesson

7. Star

8. The Hypnotic

9. Silent Treatment

10. You Got Me

11. Clones

12. What You Want

13. Act Too (Love Of My Life)

14. Do You Want More ?!!!??!

15. It's Comin'

16. Double Trouble

x

Track List: When The People Cheer (Single)

Comments

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matthewmathe r n e 8 1
Black Thought! Whoa!
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Hk
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Lyrically Black Thought can hold it with Big Pun and thats just one member... man this group is undefinable.
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Damn,,,,,,,, I had almost forgot bout this Dilla & Roots crew joint. !! Too cold bro.
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I love the Roots, I love that they're on Jimmy Fallon, now the mainstream audience gets to discover them all over again. Wowwww, they've come a long way, to virtually only being un- known only to the true hip-hop heads
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Thank you Roots for introducing Jill Scott to us
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Whites support the roots more then blacks.s sht whites support and help Them more then their own
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Another Classic hit from The Legendary Foundation, just bob ya head to this cut!
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What is this oh this is a eyeball whats this
RADIO!!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
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dbcnflor
Your the best
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Your awesome
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Not just because they are from Philly but The Legendary Roots Crew has consistently shown why they are where they are today, One of the hardest working bands swimming with sharks on Late Night but still demonstrate really how talented they are!!
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mtheodoris5
Classic!!!
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I CAN LISTEN TO THIS ALL DAY- ER'DAY!!!!
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aguilarvicto r 5 2
Vyhhtegghhyx d s a a a z z c g g g n n m h h t e s a a w w q w w e e f f g j f g u f b k b h
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Love this song
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enriquealdap e
Staight nasty!
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GREAT SONG!!!!
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Hjmjkkj
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Love these
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Living in Puerto Rico we don't listen to this type of music, but just taking some minutes to listen the pure love of hip hop this band brings it makes you want to hear more and more of the songs. Love the Roots and keep it up.
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You are now listening to The Legendary Roots Crew!!!
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You guys are the real s**t. ✌
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This statioñ is borin
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I see u a lot on the Jimmy Fallon show I've heard some of ur songs
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Great Song, Hip Hop needs to remain lyrical instead of it only being Comercial..
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Love this song!!
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why is this playing in my new Zealand radio station???
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Bopping hard to Break You Off by the Roots......t h i s song is for the very Grown/SEXY!! lol
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Bangin
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Many kisses to The Roots. I love your art.
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I will be there
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The roots is amazing
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b.f.barnes4
You got me
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This song so deep yo... If you cant open up your mind and visualize the concepts than you right you will not like them....As for me?? Ima fan 4ever... Trust baby You got me : )
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not a big fan at all and Horrible, all the similar artist are soo much better, I thought it was impossible to not like The Roots.
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Vi-tal lyrical sci-ence now .. So cool with it .. This album was so street and in 1996 this album was on constant blast out the Fosgate 12s and Punch 200ix amp. On blast !
Best album of 96 for me and there were dope s**t out in that year .. red man did muddy waters .. Even Nas I think did an album.. Still was all about the East Coast independents and The Roots 3rd album .. .. Hope new ppls and young cats can feel this and recognize real .. Don't get better than this with a few elite Underground
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yamoore22
I would love to hear a collaboratio n of the Roots and the California jazzy-rap duo Imprompt2
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Not a big fan at all
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lonzfive8
Clones & Break you off, CLASSICS!!
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b.small
Seeing them tonight!! Can't wait!!
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The Best Man!!!
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HOME GROWN" REAL WATTS N**GA !..... 103RD @ GRAPE ₩ 4-LIFE
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The album cover, so deep.
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vgrogan57
On my favorite talk show! Go roots!������
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"Break You Off" is nice with the music & the lyrical flow is on point!
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momomixon
Mannnn...thi s is that ish.
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iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone teal
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Sick... love the beat...
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You Got Me...this is my jam! Much love to The Roots
Show more

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