The Roots: The True GOAT

Rap is the only genre of music where its denizens do not age gracefully. There comes a time where those gaudy, overpriced diamond chains look rather ridiculous on a quinquagenarian, and rapping about an imaginary drug emporium is a bit unbelievable when it comes from the mouth of a 40-year-old. Most rapsters jump in the game as optimistic spitkickers, then devolve into bitter curmudgeons that make songs about how wack rap has become instead of doing something to make it better.

In a far contrast to other kinds of music, there’s not too many acts that stay popular and relevant when they hit their thirties, and it’s nearly impossible beyond that. Due to rap’s youth-influenced lifestyle the chances of today’s current hot act being the timeless equivalent of the Rolling Stones are slim to none, so most try to “expand” their empire with various business endeavors. Unfortunately, we all have to suffer through ugly clothing lines, alcoholic monkey juices, foul-smelling colognes, car washes, Laundromats and the like.

In my opinion, there are so far three acts that have successfully withstood the test of time and will continue to do so even when they are as old as Mick Jagger and Keith Richards: Diddy, Jay-Z and The Roots. Diddy may be a great showman, but he was never really a good solo artist (prove me wrong) and spends most of his time now focusing on reality shows, movies and expensive yet good-tasting (albeit still primatial) alcohol. And while Jay may be considered the greatest rapper of all time, he’s become less of a rapper (in all meanings of the word) and more of a businessman (I’ll reserve judgment on such business practices for a later post).

Which leaves The Roots. Despite a myriad of member changes (Malik B? Rahzel? Scott Storch? Peedi Crakk?) and only a couple of gold-selling albums in their extensively deep catalog, the Philly crew has been one of if not the most consistent acts in hip hop, with genre-bending product ranging from street (“Clones”) to girly (“Break You Off,” “You Got Me”) to satirical (“What They Do”) to alt (“How I Got Over”). Without any notable business ventures outside of OkayPlayer The Roots have relied on their natural talent of performance, and have essentially been on a nonstop tour for the last two decades or so. They’ve popularized the term “one man band man” before Swizz Beatz made it an awful trending topic. And Black Thought, while inexplicably overlooked, remains one of the top emcees today. Even when The Roots are playing the side and back up an artist during their live performance, the end result is something that makes me wish they’d actually had jumped into the studio with them to make a record. They’re essentially the only things that makes Jimmy Fallon’s late night show at the very least watchable.

While most rapsters aspire to be the next Shawn or Sean, more should try to emulate The Roots. Let’s face it; a good 75% of all the artists who have sent me a submission today alone won’t be around in the next ten years, so at the very least they should diversify their bonds.

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    • SupaDupa_Interlude

      Yes this is the best hip-hop group of all time. Every time they drop its so serious and they’re albums are like an experience.

      I know some of yall niggas don’t wanna hear this but: The Roots>>The Wu>>>>>TCQ.


      • jdiggla

        “The Roots>>The Wu>>>>>TCQ.”

        i dunno what the hell u talkin about but thats ridiculous

        to even try and compare the three is an exercise in futility

  • Pierzy

    Thank you. I absolutely love The Roots and it’s not just because I’m from the 215. I’ve always maintained that Black Thought is the MOST underrated emcee of all time.

    If you can only see one hip-hop artist(s) in your life, The Roots are a tough act to beat.

  • $yk

    “Let’s face it; a good 75% of all the artists who have sent me a submission today alone won’t be around in the next tenyear”

    ^ fixed

  • Teddy

    They are hella dope. But I think they come off as too deep or boring sometimes and I think thats what kind of turns some people off. You have to really listen to the Roots to catch everything they put into their music. Especially Lyrically, cause Black Thought isnt necessarily known for his voice or making his lyrics interesting. As in he just spits and doesnt use other kinds of methods to keep people interested with his voice. You guys know what I mean.

    • $yk

      “As in he just spits and doesnt use other kinds of methods to keep people interested with his voice. You guys know what I mean.”

      ^ I don’t.

      Jadakiss uses the SAME flow.

      Raekwon uses the SAME flow.

      Thought has used different flows sporadically and has sung (seen Jimmy Kimmel lately?).

      I think what you mean is he’s overlooked because he doesn’t spit the same CONTENT as others do.

      • Worley

        I think I know where Teddy is going. Black Thought’s problem is he does what I call “marathon rapping.” It seems like he’s just going on and on and on. He needs to vary the length of his lines, use more pauses, emphasize the rhymed words, diversify his rhyme schemes, etc.

        $yk you are also right. Jada and Rae use the same flow ad nauseum. Jada could benefit from the advice above. Sometimes it seems like he can only rhyme the last word of each line. Rae has many flows but for whatever reason he seems stuck.

  • chris-9999

    Favorite group of all time. I been sayin’ this for years. The only group that’s gotten better with age.

    • PhreshOxford

      This… I feel like you just went into my mind and stole my thoughts…

  • Jamal7Mile

    The Roots know how to rock the crowd, plain and simple. Great material + great stage show usually equals longevity.

    The Roots are the Earth, Wind & Fire of Hip-Hop.

  • Q461

    Pierzy-Co-sign to the fullest… love the roots seen them live like 5 times….. black thought = most slept on mc… Would love to hear a solo record from him…

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  • Kat

    I would have said Outkast belongs on the list, but wtf did they go?

  • smi888

    They are the epitome of dopeness – the roots are and will continue to be relevant because quite frankly, they give a sh** about the listener….plain and simple.

  • Devonte Swag

    Snoop Dogg is definitely worth mentioning. He is still able to be relevant at the very least to Californian’s & weed smokers (which is very close to being one and the same… LEGALIZE IT!)

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  • Brooklyn

    the roots make timeless music, that’s why they’re still relevant without having all the side ventures that dated artists like jay and diddy (the term “artist” is used loosely for the latter). when you make real thought provoking shit, you’re bound to last longer in the music industry than when you make music about how you allegedly sold drugs and about hoes that you allegedly fucked. mad props to the roots.


    acts like this are neccessary for the balance. The roots are commercial yet underground. Could they still be the Roots ona Gap commercial? IDK, thas why some greats are best lowkey.

  • 2moe

    on point the roots never dissapoint lesser ones like the tipping point still kill it poeple said that album was weak still better than any thing on the top 40. i swear guns are drawn come on, and live my lord seen em twice and i need more, rahzel was with em in vegas, quest vs. rahzel live cant hold it they fucking kill it!!!

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  • DV8

    Roots are the S***. Period.

    I put them up there with WU, RUNDMC, Kast, Gangstarr, and ATCQ, as GGOAT’S

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