Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Roots Stand Tall, Rise Down

By Evan Rytlewski
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Here’s how The Roots’ latest album could have sounded:



Yes, that song, “Birthday Girl,” featuring Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump, was actually intended to be their latest album’s first single. Wisely, it was cut from the album all together. But here’s a song that did make Rising Down's cut:


I’d love to be a fly in the wall during the marketing sessions for this album. “Should we go with the sexy teenage birthday party video, or the video where all the black dudes tie up, torture and kill a white dude?”

The Roots ultimately aborted any attempts to reinvent themselves as the next Gym Class Heroes and stuck to the style they all but perfected on their last album, Game Theory: spry, hard-hitting hip-hop. In fact, in almost all respects, Rising Down is a sequel to Game Theory, complete with the same foreboding synths, the same hyper-charged political raps and even many of the same guest performers (Peedi Peedi is back, and once again, he makes a strong case for becoming a permanent Root).

Rising Theory
is rife with bone-chilling tracks and absolutely killer verses—it’s been a long time since I’ve heard guest lyricists this hungry—but like all sequel albums, this one doesn’t live up to its predecessor. Game Theory was tighter and packed more sonic surprises. Still, The Roots have accomplished what few rap acts have: They’ve released a tenth album that serves their legacy well.
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