FIRST IMPRESSIONS: The Roots, “Undun”
By Adam Valeiras on November 30, 2011
Release Date: Dec. 6, 2011
3. Make My
4. One Time
5. Kool On
6. The OtherSide
9. I Remember
10. Tip the Scale
11. Redford (For Yia-Yia & Pappou)
12. Possibility (2nd Movement)
13. Will To Power (3rd Movement)
14. Finality (4th Movement)
- It's always easy to tell a Roots album. There's Questlove's in-your-face percussions and Black Thought's always approaching vocals, always on the tail end of the drum-line. Undun follows these trends, and in doing so, has produced what is likely to be added to a long list of Roots classics.
- If Game Theory reflected a new-millenium approach to rap, and their older Do You Want More? stemmed from an era of jazz/hip-hop, then Undun has found refuge under the soul stylings of Curtis Mayfield, most notably on tracks like "Make My" and "The OtherSide."
- It's pretty clear that these guys are still angry. They haven't forgotten the mentality that surrounded so much of the rap being created ten or fifteen years ago. The Roots recognize that the race issues and the economic issues of the past still exist, and this shows through the group's refusal to succumb to the simple, melody driven sound that thrives in today's industry. Just listen to the lyrics on just about any track and you will know what I mean.
- The Roots are masters of sampling and layering. They, of course, have impressive instrumental and songwriting skills, but on the record, the mixing is where The Roots refine their sound. And this stays true on Undun. The drums and vocals arise to the top of every track, annunciating the interesting and unique beat, helping the song to flourish where so many hip-hop tracks fail - within their lack of engaging rhythm and melody.
Key Tracks: "Tip the Scale," "Make My," and "The OtherSide"
Predictions: If there is one problem with The Roots, it is that they are too consistent. Every album they create is as good, if not better than the last, but the changes from album to album may be too subtle. If every subsequent album sounds a little different than the last, then I guess that's okay, but come the eleventh album, they may need to start branching out. They've gotten a little too comfortable in their formula. But then again, it works well. They sell records and people, including myself, still love just about everything they've written, and I think Undun will receive the same critical and fan response. Or at least it should.