MUSIC: Roots – Rising Down…..A “Def Jam” indeed….

9 05 2008

The Roots - Rising Down

If this is what Jay-Z had in mind when creating Def Jam Left, then congratulations to the seemingly reluctant President of Universal Music Group’s Def Jam label (now, if we could get him to become a more reluctant rapper and put the mic down). The Roots bring a consciousness and social awareness to the label not seen since Public Enemy’s better days, with Chuck D now spending his days taking the mass media to task and Flavor Flav deciding to, well……Yeah, that’s better left for another time. Full review after the commute.

While much of the project features The Roots crew rockin’ as usual, the overall tone is much darker than past recordings. Deep basslines and rumbling riffs lace the track after track, while the subject matter spans the gamut of socially redeeming topics. Another departure from past projects seems to be the number of featured artists. Joint after joint brings a fresh voice into the fold, some very familiar (Mos Def – “Rising Down”, Talib Kweli – “I Will Not Apologize” & Common – “The Show”), some known for spittin’ along side Illadelph’s finest (Dice Raw, several tracks, & Peedi Crak aka Peedi Peedi – “Get Busy”), a couple of uncommon collabos (Styles P – “Rising Down”, Saigon – “Criminal”).

The standout feature for me was Malik B return as Black Thought’s partner-in-rhyme on “I Can’t Help It”, a joint touching on the addictive ills of society. Malik B, a former member of The Roots, speaks loudly when he spits “…I tweak in a low tone, frequent the ozone / I can’t help it, hidin’ a secret that’s so known…”, a single bar that touches on his own personal demons, drug abuse, once outline by Black Thought on Phrenology’s “Water”.

Withough questions, the star of the show once again is Black Thought. Largely considered the Robin to ?uestlove’s Batman, Black Thought consistently shines with a flow that can be seen by few in hip-hop history. While the structure of Rising Down doesn’t allow Black Though to delivery sixteen’s in triplicate every time out, he still without a doubt spit at levels most current MC’s couldn’t dream of dreamin’ of…..

Overall, add this as another feather in The Roots cap of certified bangers. As a biased observer, I’d recommend it to any and all. In comparison to their other joints, I’d rank it behind Illadelph Halflife, Things Fall Apart and Phrenology. Add to your stash…On the Jackson family scale, this deserves……….

A Tito plus a Jermaine 3.5 out of 5

The Roots – Rising Down [2008]


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