On this day, Nov. 26, in hip-hop history...

2002: 16 years ago today, The Roots released their fifth studio album, Phrenology. The album was the follow-up to their commercially successful Things Fall Apart, which was released in 1999. The album was recorded from June 2000 to September of 2002, and features the likes of neo soul and hip-hop heavyweights such as Musiq Soulchild, Jill Scott, and Talib Kweli.

The album is named after the now discredited pseudoscience of phrenology; the study of head shapes to determine intelligence and character, was met with universal acclaim from critics for its merging of the hip-hop and neo soul sounds, and its themes of the commodification of hip-hop culture.

Phrenology reached number 11 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and saw the release of two singles. The first single "Break You Off," featured Musiq Soulchild on the hook and broke the Billboard Hot 100. The track also contains a sample from Sting's "Shape Of My Heart," a song that has recently been at the center of controversy because of a dispute between Sting and Juice Wrld over its use in the song "Lucid Dreams." The next release was "The Seed (2.0)," which performed well in Europe, featured Cody Chestnutt and was originally recorded by the soul singer as a solo track before being reworked by the legendary Roots Crew.

Though the album wasn't met with the same type of commercial success as Things Fall Apart, Phrenology managed to reach gold certification in the United States and continued to solidify The Roots as one of the pre-eminent black music groups of our time.

Geffen Records
Geffen Records

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