The Roots-”How I Got Over” (Purchase it HERE)
So, here’s the deal: Why beat around the bush? We all know Philly’s very own Roots crew; 9 albums deep in the game, Jimmy Fallon’s “house” band, ?uestLove, Black Thought, “Do You Want More?”, “Things Fall Apart”. Yeah, yeah, yeah. “How I Got Over” (which takes it’s name from Clara Ward’s Gospel classic) will be the Roots 3rd studio album released on the famed Def Jam label (dropping this Tuesday, the 22nd). Their first offering since calling Def Jam “home”, “Game Theory” was CLASSIC ‘ish, probably my 3rd favorite Roots album behind the likes of the aforementioned “Do You Want More?” and “Illadelph Halflife” (which may have been the crew’s hardest album), yet name me one track from “Rising Down” aside from the Mos Def-featured title cut? That’s what I thought? So while the overall reception of the group/crew’s output since their controversial move has been a mixed bag, I’m here to tell you: “H.I.G.O.” is damn near flawless, aside from a few suspect guest features. Allow me to expound…
The title cut from “H.I.G.O.” leaked, for what now seems like over 6 months ago, “Dear God 2.0″ has been floating around the interwebs for at least a month. So, being that two of the album’s 14 tracks may be “old news”, there are two less than one minute interludes (“DillaTude The Flight Of Titus” and “Tunnel Vision”) one bonus cut “Hustla” (f. STS) and the intro (“A Piece Of Light”), does the album lose a bit of luster upon first listen? I mean, that leaves you with only 9 tracks to really peep for the first time, right? Nevermind that, the remainder of the LP is simply breathtaking, awe-inspiring and rewind-worthy! The pure genius that lies withing this album is it’s sequencing.
The album opens with two very reflective, almost somber cuts in the form of “Walk Alone” and “Dear God 2.0″. Both tracks are very daring, out of the ordinary and the type of product that only the Roots could deliver, and get away with. The self-reflection continues with “Radio Daze” (f. Blu, P.O.R.N. & Dice Raw) and “Now Or Never” (f. Phonte & Dice Raw) and “The Day” (again, f. Blu, Phonte and Patty Crash on the hook). While Black Thought remains of one of my top 5 emcees to ever pick up the microphone, he truly meets his match with the lyrical performances delivered by both Blu and Phonte on “H.I.G.O.” (the duo appears on two tracks each), yet the competition has only forced Thought to come through in the clutch even more as he offers up some of his most potent verses ever on this outing. Also, is it just me or does the aforementioned pairing of Blu and Phonte seem effortless? I mean, these cats feel so at home on this album, it’s like as if they’re both gunning to be card-carrying members of the Roots crew. Could you even imagine a complete album, 10 or so tracks deep, comprised of lyrical performances, solely by Black Thought, Blu & Phonte? Good Lawd!!
Picking up the pace a bit is the title cut, “Web 20/20″ which features stellar performances from both guests, Truck North and Peedi Crack, and the bouncy, Bomb-Squadish’ (namely found on Ice Cube’s debut) of “Right On”? I don’t care how unappealing Peedi’s solo outings are at times, he absolutely steals the show on “Web 20/20″, and that’s a hefty statement because Truck North’s performance doesn’t lag far behind either.
Now, here’s where I’m scratching my head, who in the hell is STS as what is he doing on my Roots album? “Right On” had me spazzing out while mowing my lawn in the 90 degree heat with this album in my headphones yesterday morning. Yet, when STS’ annoying delivery blasted through my headphones on the second half of “Right On”, I immediately stopped what I was doing to peer down at the Ipod on my hip and awaiting the “features” to scroll across the screen. Again, I’m not completely sold on the “bonus” cut, “Hustla” either and once again, STS appearance on the cut doesn’t do anything to help matters. But, it’s considered a “bonus” cut, so we’ll just omit it or act like it never happened, OK?
Folks, this is as good as you’re gonna’ get this year. “How I Got Over” cements the Roots in Hip Hop history as possibly the greatest crew to ever do it. I mean, these cats have been killin’ shit for nearly 20 years!! And don’t even mention the Wu-Tang Clan, different place, different ballgame. This album has been in constant rotation for nearly 48 hours; mowing the yard, washing the car, cleaning up around the house, Father’s day dinner/movie with the wife last nite, I LOVE THIS ALBUM…PERIOD. I have to say, this is one of the Roots top 3 outings, no question. Don’t even bother downloading the album, wait ’till Tuesday, it will only be that much sweeter! I guarantee you this jawn will STAY in rotation all Summer, perfect timing for the Roots.