How I Got Over
06:00PM ET June 22, 2010
Contributor: Hip Hop Blog Staff
A Rocky Williform Company
The Roots remain, even in this era of singles-oriented, create-your-own playlists music consumers, a defiantly album-centric band. Sure, they've released their fair share of stellar singles since their major-label debut in 1995, but the true essence of who they are as a band lies in the albums. Classics like Do You Want More?!!!??!, Things Fall Apart, and Phrenology are the reasons they've quietly become one of hip-hop's most critically-acclaimed and beloved groups.
So to fans unfamiliar with their work, the sublimely subdued How I Got Over may be taxing to listen to initially. If your attention span calls for rushes of "Wow!" moments, numerous high-profile guest stars, a different producer on each track and nonsensically inane 'punchlines,' this type of subtlety may not be your cup of tea. But what the Roots have crafted is one of the most cohesive, forward-pushing hip hop albums of the year thus far. Following their preceding albums (Game Theory and Rising Down) which were explicitly un-commercial, ...Over features lush, atmospheric production and quirky guest stars like the Monsters of Folk. "Now Or Never" finds lead MC Black Thought rapping, "I'm ready for the next chapter and page/To start acting my age/and part ways/With the Black Thought from back in the days." In a genre where thirtysomethings believe that 'beefs' with twenty year-olds is how one remains relevant, its refreshing to hear the frontman of such a visionary crew still sounding like he's eager to break new ground.
John Legend makes an appearance on the piano-driven march "Fire," another album standout that breaks slightly from the moody sound of the rest of the album. ?uestlove's drumming is the backbone of each track, as usual, and the band provides gorgeous backdrops for Thought's ruminations on life, maturity, and the state of the hyper-connected planet circa 2010. How I Got Over may require repeat listens for full appreciation, but it is a wonderful set from an accomplished and visionary band. Subtle and sublime in an era of flash and smash, The Roots show that, 15 years later, they are still unafraid to take hip-hop to new plateaus and never rest on their legendary laurels.