The legendary Roots crew will deliver their ninth studio album, How I Got Over, in June, as revealed by Black Thought to XXLMag.com prior to the band’s jam session at New York’s Highline Ballroom last night (April 6).
“The new record is well underway—right now, it’s about completed,” said Black Thought. Arriving amidst the band’s touring hiatus, How I Got Over will reflect The Roots ascension in the mainstream as house band on NBC’s Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. “It’s a more celebratory album—the story of triumph and the rise of the brand that is ‘The Roots,’ and how we kept our heads above water consistently for so many years in the game without taking a hiatus, maintaining some love and relevancy for all this time,” said The Roots’ lead MC. “And it refers to the gospel song by Mahalia Jackson. That’s the initial inspiration for the title of this joint. It’s like a moving performance of her rendition of that song.”
The recording process for the album was made difficult by The Roots’ current commitment to Late Night, involving 16-hour days Monday through Friday—due in part to the band’s commute everyday from their home base in Philly to the New York set. “We recorded some stuff right there on set, working in our little dressing room or whatever—just getting it in where we fit in, so to speak,” he said. “We record sometimes after we tape a show for the night—we just hit the studio.”
And on the nights in New York when the band isn’t in the studio, they can be found at the Highline Ballroom, playing a run of jam sessions, the last of their live dates before their touring hiatus. Last night’s show featured guests such as Joell Ortiz, Jesse Boykins III, Blitz The Ambassador, and Roots’ extended family member Dice Raw, among others, to aid in the high-energy improvisation. The shows, set to include a total of 12 dates, have all sold out thus far. Says Black Thought, “It adds on to the understanding of The Roots having arrived.”
As for whether the band envisions keeping this up for the next five years, the length of their contract with Late Night, Black Thought is optimistic. “It’s definitely a possibility as long as we’re able to maintain the same sort of maneuverability.” He insists, “No problems have arisen thus far. - Devin Chanda
Photos courtesy of Jonathan Weiner