Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2008

The Roots Still Trying the Emo-Pop Connection

By Evan Rytlewski
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The Roots embarrassed themselves earlier this year when they pushed the emo-lite crossover attempt "Birthday Girl," featuring a sunny chorus from Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump, as the lead single to their latest album, Rising Down. Fans cried foul, and ultimately the band reneged, pulling the track from the album and saving face with a record that, against the odds, turned out to be even more militant and uncompromising than even their previous album, Game Theory.

It's odd, then, that The Roots would again play the emo card on their just-announced latest tour, which they'll split with emo-rap stars Gym Class Heroes. It's tough to say whether The Roots are simply trying to mix up their tour schedule—since they're on the road so much it's very likely they're playing to stale audiences at this point—or whether they're setting themselves up for another play for the pop charts. I spoke with ?uestlove some years back, and while he made it clear The Roots are first and foremost interested in making good albums—something that actually isn't a priority for many rap acts—he doesn't hide the fact that selling records is a important, too. The band is much more commercially savvy than they let on.

The tour stops at the Eagles Ballroom on Oct. 23, with high-interest opener Estelle. Much as some of The Roots' backpack faithful might grumble, this is sure to be a better attended concert than the band's typical annual stop at the Rave.

 

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