Tuesday, July 25, 2006

roots play again

Lately, I've been wondering about The Roots. Namely, has let's-save-the-music ideology overtaken innovation? Do You Want More and Illadelph Halflife represented a phase of ambitious sharpening and tightening, which culminated in Things Fall Apart. Phrenology sprawled and reached for new things, just as ambitiously. The Tipping Point's back-to-basics, quasi-preservationist drive seems to have devolved into blandness, at least on Game Theory's first single, "It Don't Feel Right." Even the rock edge of "Long Time" doesn't really help: the chorus is weak (but the backing on the verses is nice), Black Thought is enjoyable, but doesn't really bring anything new (but Peedi Crack's verse injects some energy). Hopefully it'll all sound better in the context of the album (not to mention on CD rather than on a lo-fi MP3), which the singles from The Tipping Point certainly did.

It's not like I was ever not going to buy the new album (I mean, I have Organix, the From The Ground Up and The Legendary EPs, the two-CD edition of Come Alive and both volumes of Home Grown! The Beginner's Guide To Understanding The Roots), but Status Ain't Hood has unexpectedly heightened my expectations. However, his last sentences ("I wouldn't call it a masterpiece, but Game Theory is certainly a triumph for the Roots, a breakthrough to a new sensibility. They're onto something special here, and I hope they keep going with it.") show he still has a little ways to go to understand this band.

Is it plausible that someone in the Roots' camp will stumble across Ulrich Beck and the next album will end up being called Risk Society?