Album of the Week 32-2012: The Roots – How I Got Over

Though Hip Hop isn’t necessarily a genre I usually like listening to, the genre has boasted a few classic albums I love to listen to. Most of it is the early eighties stuff, when the line between Funk and Hip Hop was still pretty thin, but the live Hip Hop The Roots have been delivering on their recent albums just keeps getting better. Starting out as a combination between socially conscious lyrics and jazzy music courtesy of the brilliant rhythm section of Ahmir ‘?uestlove’ Thompson – one of the world’s best drummers overall – and bassist Leonard ‘Hub’ Hubbard, The Roots have gradually grown more eclectic and better with every release, with 2010 release ‘How I Got Over’ being the highlight so far.

What I like most about ‘How I Got Over’ is the overall somber mood on the album. This isn’t the “long live the party” vibe you hear on mainstream radio every day, this is – if I interpret everything correctly – about people struggling to keep their heads above the water in a changing and confused world, all set to moody background music that is at times reminiscent of the jazzy vibes of the days of ‘Do You Want More?!!!??!’. ‘How I Got Over’, however, puts more emphasis on strong and catchy choruses than before, which gives an impression of actual songs instead of vamps decorated by raps.

After a jazzy a capella – although I suspect the voices are sampled – intro ‘A Peace Of Light’, the first gloomy piano chords of ‘Walk Alone’ open the desperation of this album. ?uestlove places his snare and cymbal hits as crashing explosions in atmorphere, the raps are reflective and the chorus has the soul of an old Blues man. This and the following ‘Dear God 2.0.’ – almost a sequel to the song by Monsters Of Folk, who appear on this version as well – set the sad mood for this album perfectly. There are some moments that break this mood though, such as the cry for breaking out which is ‘The Fire’ (featuring John Legend – with whom The Roots recorded the equally brilliant ‘Wake Up!’ – on the amazing chorus), the somewhat hopeful title track and the subdued groove of the brilliant ‘Radio Daze’, which is somewhat similar to an early sixties Soul song in delivery. This variation is what makes this album so brilliant in the first place. The only low is the closing track ‘Hustla’, but that’s only a bonus track!

‘How I Got Over’ is one of the best albums released this decade (if you start counting in 2010 that is…), regardless of what genre it is. Since the addition of guitarist ‘Captain’ Kirk Douglas, the band has become even better than I already thought they were and ‘How I Got Over’ is the album that is even better than the jazzy ‘Do You Want More?!!!??!’, the breakthrough of ‘Things Fall Apart’ or the amazing, wildly eclectic ‘Phrenology’. The only way to get a better impression of what The Roots are able to do, is to see them live.

Recommended tracks: ‘Radio Daze’, ‘Walk Alone’, ‘The Fire’, ‘How I Got Over’

    • Eli
    • September 10th, 2012

    Bravo sir; the roots are finally getting some respect.

    • Thanks for your comment! I’m only giving them what’s coming to them!

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