Never met a Roots album that I didn’t like, and that glorious trend continues with this latest release How I Got Over. Lot of folks are likely discovering their music through their current gig on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, but for the rest of us, The Roots continue to do what they’ve always done—bring an unmatched level of maturity and artistry to a genre of music that the uninformed still believe doesn’t exist, simply because it doesn’t exist on mainstream radio. The idea that The Roots create and perform all of their music with live instruments is one that’s hard to match in the world of modern hip-hop, and one that always ensures their sound is a distinctive one, even amongst their closely affiliated peers. They are without question one of the most important (and influential) groups in the history of hip-hop, and every time they put another set of songs out (because the clever numbering gag suggests this is all just one really long album) this belief is reconfirmed.
Do have to admit that it took a couple listens before I fully adjusted to the album’s tone, but I attribute that to revisiting Game Theory and Rising Down the week before this one dropped and still being somewhat mesmerized by the bleak and aggressive nature of both albums. This one is definitely more relaxed, but no less self-assured and focused than their previous works. It’s just more…chill is the word I would use to describe it really. The narrative themes of the music are still ones of progression, intelligence, and social clarity, but it’s not as urgent as it all was before. Maybe a new political climate is to blame, or maybe their new gig with Fallon has taken some of the pressure off after years of constant touring. Who knows and really who cares?
How I Got Over is proof positive that The Roots have won. They will always be considered one of hip-hop’s most trendsetting and dynamic musical collectives, they don’t have a bad album to their names, and after years of hard work, hustle, and perseverance, they still persist. And are still making music they and their many fans can always be proud of and appreciate.
For a few days, I was convinced that “The Day” was my favorite track on the album, because of its strong sense of optimism, and the premise that great things are right around the corner, but before too long it was nudged aside by “The Fire,” which delivers something of the same notion, but in a more forceful manner.
“You don’t say good luck/You say don’t give up/It’s the fire…Let it burn”
And oh, look at that, the song is embedded right below this very paragraph. Check it out, and for those unfortunate folks that are completely unfamiliar with The Roots, they put out a two-disc collection called Home Grown: Beginners Guide to Understanding The Roots a few years ago just for you…and you…and most definitely you…