Showing posts with label the roots. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the roots. Show all posts

Monday, December 12, 2016

album review: 'the hamilton mixtape' by lin-manuel miranda & various artists

Let's talk about one of my biggest mistakes last year, or at least one that has weighed on me pretty heavily: I didn't talk about HamiltonOh, I considered it, a lot: I like hip-hop, I like musical theater, and I like Lin-Manuel Miranda. I might not have loved his debut In The Heights but it had a lot of charm and potential, so when he took the world by storm in 2015 with his musical chronicling the fascinating and tumultuous life of Alexander Hamilton... I didn't cover it. I don't really remember what my reasoning was for it either - the musical, while having its flaws in pacing and historical context, is indeed pretty awesome, with some of the most immediately catchy songs you'll ever hear. And hell, I even knew Daveed Diggs from clipping., I had an obvious inroad here!

And yet even with that Hamilton became the sort of Broadway crossover into popular culture that you so rarely see. Forget that it cleaned up at the Tony Awards, it was the sort of show where you'd probably have a better chance of winning the lottery than getting tickets. As such, the vast majority of us made do with the soundtrack, which wound up on a surprising number of year-end lists from professional music critics and as of now has crossed over a billion streams on Spotify, which does say a lot. Would it have landed on mine? Well, it would have had a shot, and that is saying a lot, especially given how strong 2015 was, especially for rap music.

And then we all got word about the mixtape... and if you've seen the list of huge names that have signed on for it, it's more than a little mindblowing! I would have gotten it for Usher covering 'Wait For It', but when you have Black Thought, Busta Rhymes, Joell Ortiz, and Nate Ruess doing 'My Shot', Kelly Clarkson doing 'It's Quiet Uptown', John Legend doing 'History Has Its Eyes On You', Chance The Rapper working on the reprise of 'Dear Theodosia', Regina Spektor and Ben Folds covering the regular 'Dear Theodosia', Ashanti doing 'Helpless' - which is such an obvious choice it's not even funny - Nas, Dave East, and Aloe Blacc working on 'Wrote My Way Out', Common and Ingrid Michaelson handling 'Who Tells Your Story' with The Roots - and The Roots are all over this project - and then add in a bonus track like 'Congratulations' with Dessa on it... at some point, you might as well give this project a spot on my year end list! I was primed to love this, and that meant I came in with the highest of expectations - were they paid off?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

video review: '...and then you shoot your cousin' by the roots

Review two of the night, and a great album to boot. Whew.

Next up, I'm feeling like keeping up with the hip-hop reviews... so Clipping's coming up before I dive back into country. Stay tuned!

album review: '...and then you shoot your cousin' by the roots

Yeah, I know this review is late. There's a reason for that: for a band like The Roots, you want to make sure you're getting things right.

And at this point, after going through The Roots' massive and critically acclaimed discography, I'm a little lost where to even start. Beginning in the early 90s, the band started as an alternative hip-hop act fronted by one of the most lyrically dexterous MCs to ever pick up the microphone and a fusion of jazz and conscious hip-hop to create some impressively insightful rap I've ever heard. And it wasn't just the fact that they've easily made four classic albums, but that the albums they made hold up astoundingly well. There might have been brief moments of experimentation with the times, but I could give you a record like Things Falling Apart right now and it'd still be accessible and definitely worth your time.

Now if we were looking at albums from The Roots that I'd brand as my favourites... man, it's a tough choice, but it'd probably come down to a split between the groove-rich, experimental and melody-rich Phrenology and the haunted, aching sadness of Undun, the latter being the most recent Roots album released before this one. That album is one that I've long expected The Roots would make, now that with the stability of being Jimmy Fallon's backing band they have the freedom to take more risks and get weirder. Because Undun is a concept album exploring the life in reverse of a black man trying to make it out of the trap, and while I wish the rapping had painted a little more of a stark picture, that was never their intent. What Black Thought and the rest of the band delivers is a hazy enough portrait that many could likely see resembling themselves, and combined with the soulful undercurrents, the personal yet reflective lyrics, and incredible melodies, make it easily one of the best albums of the decade thus far, at least for me. 

So when I heard The Roots were making another concept album with ...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin this year, I was psyched, and while it might be late, I was determined that I was going to cover this album at some point, even if it is nearly a month late. So how was it?