The Not So Legendary

So last week the Roots released their new single “Don’t Sound Right” and played two big shows at Radio City Music Hall. I would take this to mean that their new album Game Theory[1] will be coming out soon, but they may decide to pull a Cam’ron and wait until the moment is a bit less opportune. At any rate, it’s likely we’ll have a new Roots CD some time between now and the end of the year.

Not that I’m holding my breath or anything. If “Don’t Sound Right” is any indication, Game Theory may not be poised to make much of a splash regardless of when it’s released. As far as lead singles are concerened, it’s not bad or anything, but it’s definitely not the kind of single you release when your last album was the decidedly lackluster The Tipping Point and it’s being speculated that your signing to Def Jam is either as a tax write-off or part of some convoluted marketing scheme.

At the very least they could’ve figured out which dumpster Cody ChestNUTS is sleeping in and gotten him back to singing. “The Seed 2.0,” from way back in 2002, was the last time they seemed to have had much of a spark. It even made a certain degree of inroads on crackety-crack radio[2], which is what I listen to in my car, on the outside chance that “The Rooster” might come on. Or what about D’Angelo? I can’t imagine he’s up to much these days.

I know ?uestlove, has been very adamant about the fact that the Roots aren’t being pressured to make a hit with this album, but I wonder if Jay-Z wasn’t just telling them that because he knew they weren’t going to have a hit anyway. To hear ?uestionmark tell it, this is going to be an album full of dark, difficult songs like “Water” from Phrenology. But I don’t really get a dark, difficult vibe from “Don’t Sound Right.” It just sounds kind of half-assed and uncommitted.

Will Game Theory really turn out to be the brooding masterpiece ?uestforfire has been hyping it up as in interviews[3], or just another Tipping Point? Based on this first single, I’d have to go with the latter.

[1] Wasn’t this thing recorded-in-full back when they were still on Geffen?

[2] They’ll play rap music on crackety-crack radio, but only if the rapper is white. “The Seed 2.0″ is the only song I can think of played by an all-black group that got spins on crackety-crack stations.

[3] Admit it, you giggled a bit when ?uestlove suggested that this was the Roots’ Kid A. But then you just thought it was kind of sad.

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  • MosBang


  • mod

    first mufuckaz.
    roots = not a good look.

  • MosBang

    Bol the Roots are old and out dated. The demographic they are trying to target don’t even buy hip hop like that any more. Which proves u were right when u called out Jay for being a horrible president all he’s doing is signing old dead acts, and trying to bring them back to life.

    P.S. could you please get at DJ Drama, he is an idiot look at what he said about Jay verse on the ‘Hustlin’ remix

    >So what if Jay came with a sub par verse. Yall should be happy he graced yall with his presence. :)

  • Ian

    I know you’re not forgetting about Living Colour when it comes to black bands on white radio.

  • nOva

    Things Fall Apart.

    After THAT cd, they really did.

  • B.

    Yo Bol, I just started reading your blogs. You do be hatin big time. But on the flip, your joints be funny and (true).

  • P-Matik

    >I know you’re not forgetting about Living Colour when it comes to black bands on white radio.

    Living Colour isn’t rap.

  • Bol

    >I know you’re not forgetting about Living Colour when it comes to black bands on white radio.

    I’m referring more so to so-called “alternative” stations.

    Like The Point here in St. Louis.

    Living Colour is concerned more hair metal.

  • Zilla

    The Roots will always have these fundamental probelms when it comes to moving units:
    1) Black Thought is not a star, nor even remotely interesting. He’s a solid MC but rather unspectacular. For ANY band to get big, it needs a star lead singer. BT is not that dude. “Thought @ Work” is still hot though.
    2) The Roots, being virtusos musicians, out think themselves when it comes to hip hop. Hip hop is the easiest music to make–4/4 count, kick/snare, 16-bar verse, 8 bar chorus, repeat. Say something everyone can relate to or dream to be, and make it catchy. “Laffy Taffy” was bigger than the Roots entire catalogue. It’s sad, but it says alot about the Roots.
    3) ?uestlove being the mouthpiece of the band limits them publicly. Again, if BT was a star and enjoyed the spotlight, he’d pull people in with style, charisma, charm, hooks, etc. ?uestlove is a pompous music geek sharing his thoughts to every magazine and website that’ll have him. No one wants to be talked down to.
    4) No one in Philly gives a shit about the Roots. Ice Cube said it best–”You can’t be large if you can’t heat up your own backyard.” What other big hip hop artists don’t have a padlock on their hometowns? People here in Philly like raw street shit from NY or ATL and no-name street rappers. It’s “below” the Roots to try to catch these kids and build an army in Illadelph. Beanie Sigel, Freeway and f*cking Cassidy get more love in Philly than The Roots. For real.


    must have been bored to write this LAAAMMMMEEE ass article…step ur game up bol!

  • gerald

    Belize why are you such a hater? Isn’t your philosophy to support a brother making paper no matter how much shit he puts out, or do u only apply that philosophy when someone attacks Southern rappers? It must be a bitch to have your own logic used against you.

  • Sarutama

    “Hip hop is the easiest music to make–4/4 count, kick/snare, 16-bar verse, 8 bar chorus, repeat. Say something everyone can relate to or dream to be, and make it catchy.”

    IF you are content with making boring, radio friendly pop music, then sure. But why not aspire to more then that?

  • young h

    body yourself, thanks.

  • silva

    “?uestlove is a pompous music geek sharing his thoughts to every magazine and website that’ll have him. No one wants to be talked down to.”

    i would wear that on a shirt


    Naw Gerald(?) just statin the truth, i hope Mr./Mrs. bol (u neva know these days) appreciates when someone tells him the truth, not ride his dick. I admit i hate on most his shit, but if its good and thought out clearly, i give him his props. My point is: STOP NutSwaggin! Its not right bruh!

  • The Assimilated Negro

    The Roots are definitely an interesting hip hop case study. On the surface it really seems they do everything right, “play the game how it’s supposed to be played” but still come up short.

    Ultimately hip hop is still very much a singles game. And they don’t make banging singles. “You Got Me” and that album (Things Fall Apart) was probably their biggest mainstream splash/buzz. They even said it one of their own albums (might have been illadelph, don’t remember which) in the outro they say “to this point, the Roots concept has not ‘blown up” and it’s quite possible that it won’t”

    They’re a throwback group in many ways. And not throwback to mid 90s or late 80s, but throwback to like the 70s. Concept albums that are not built around singles.

    I don’t think they’re totally unawares of this stuff though, I think they’re fine doing what they do. It’s not like they’re poor, doing nothing and just writing blogs or something. I think if Jay-Z took a real invested interest in them and they got on the samep age, they might have one last hurrah in them.

    damn, I wrote a lot. should have put this on my blog. maybe I will …as I said at the top they’re an interesting case study for those who want to complain about all the wackness in the game.

  • bol

    fuck off jigs.

  • bob

    fuck bol you a bitch made dude. I’ll bet i could whoop his ass.

  • allnice

    Bol, good post man. The Roots had a nice run….Remember Pass the Popcorn? And Do You Want More? Illadelph Halflife was their masterpiece and Things Fall Apart was the first time that I any hip hop act I listen to on the reg put out an album that was as legendary and even somewhat surpasses their masterpiece. Phrenology was cool and could have been better if they didn’t fuck it up with a few songs. The Tipping Point was really low quality Roots, which is why you are writing this article. If they hadn’t released that horrible album, you would have been more interesed in hearing how it all turned out……

    On Black Thought: He is a real good mc, but he has very lil depth. Even when he tries to get political, he sounds really shallow, just brushing the service. He is never gonna say anything to shock you, but he will sound good on Roots beats. I actually liked Malik B, or Slacks, better than him, but I guess he is somewhere smoking the pipe. Whateva happened to Dice Raw? Just BT alone isn’t really the Roots to me……

    Anyways, I hope their album is better than that crappy song they released…..We’ll see…….

  • Superior

    The problem with Bol and the rest of you kats is that you’re waiting on the Roots to sound like Cam, Juelz, 50, LL, Lil Wayne and every other kat in the game. all these kats saying the same ish. seriously the same ish.

    Just because the Roots inked with Def Jam doesn’t mean they’re gonna sound just like everyone else. jump the bandwagon, if you will. For nearly 15 years now, the Roots have continued to make quality music. MUSIC. not hip-hop. the industry has given them the title of “first hip-hop band”. They are musicians. They play hip-hop and incorporate so many different genres into it. They ain’t making no bubble gum ish. Did “Proceed” sound anything like “Concerto of the Desperados”? Did “Concerto..” sound like “You Got Me”? Did “You Got Me” sound anything like “The Seed 2.0″? Did “The Seed” sound anything like “Don’t Say Nothing”? Negative. They’re pushing boundaries, trying new things. ULTIMATELY MAKING ***NEW*** MUSIC. not just repeating the same formula.

    In regards to Jay Z being a bad president. Nope. Hella smart move, actually. Any smart business man knows that diversification is imperative. When he signed the Roots to Def Jam Left, he was bringing a huge demographic, who once followed Def Jam, back to Def Jam. Think about it.

    Finally in regards to the single, its hot. “It Don’t Feel Right” is not JUST the name of the single. Its got some depth to it. Take some time to listen to it lyrically and understand the message. Yeah, you didn’t hear? Most worthwhile music carries a message. Wild, right? This message is more important than some repetative kat saying “I’m rocking ice, got shoes on my truck, etc”. Especially now when you walk outside and see gas prices. When you see the war the U.S. has waged on other nations. My opinion is as good as yours, though. I hope you respect mine like I did all of yours. Oh, and I hope you don’t expect the Roots to do a song with Paris Hilton, do you? Peace.

  • DJ C “THe oLd SouL”

    Reading Bol’s blog and some of the comments on here do not surprise me. A lot of people don’t get The Roots’ style. If we don’t expand on the standard 4/4 beats and hooks, Hip-Hop will get boring and played out. For shit to last, it has to get better, more advance. Dumbing down Hip-Hop will only hurt it. Niggas wake up and open you minds to some new shit. If every artist in the game sounded like Lil’ Wayne, 50 or Dip Set, honestly, I would only listen to Hip-Hop up to 1999. Big up to The Roots crew, I can’t wait for this album!!!

  • BRAD

    4 bol… im curious cuz it seemz like u do a lotta hatin’ on this blog of urs. not gotten any ass in a while i suppose. but what DO u like? u hate southern shit. u hate on this new roots album, which is about as far from the southern shit ur gonna get, and in ur blog the other day u said u were feelin some “torn” shit on the radio from back in the day. go 2 rolling stone or some shit & write 4 them crackers over there at least until u get ur nutz reattached.

  • DeejayPostie

    The Roots don’t need to change a damn thing and I find it depressing that anyone want’s them to do anything other than they are doing right now. Hip Hop – Simple music to make, 4/4 beats, singles driven. Jeeesus Christ man what kind of thing is that to say? That isn’t hip hop music, it’s pop music!! That’s what pop artists do – they follow trends, change their style to be similar to someone else who has sold millions because their record company wants them to sell a few more records to people that don’t like having to think about what they are listening. A good pop tune is one that someone can hear once on the radio and say “ooh, that’s a catchy little number, I like the guy singing in the chorus, I might download that for my ipod when I get home, what’s that guys name again?”
    Okay so plenty of people make it that way and even more people seem to want to buy that shit, but learn some fucking music history! Hip Hop was always supposed to be anti-establishment, it was supposed to fly in the face of record sales and above all be done for the love of the culture. I know that that’s been forgotten in todays hyper-corporate world but seriously, Do we really want all our hip hop to sound the same? I know I am probably in the minority but there are a still a load of hip hop fans out there that like to listen to stuff that challenges them, something that makes for longer, interesting and less disposable listening experience. You guys have got plenty of that easy listening shit that 50, Jay and and all the so-called rap superstars out their are putting out on a daily basis.So please, I beg you, don’t force the roots to sell out, I am so bored of all the Gun toting horse shit out there right now. Give me the Roots any fucking day!