Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Roots Rising Down

Right about now, I wish I was living in the City of Brotherly Love. Check out the insane line-up above and you'll see why. The Roots just put out their 10th album, Rising Down, and they're hitting the road hard in support of it.

Before I even get to the music, I want to take a look at the title, which comes from William T. Vollmann's tome on violence entitled Rising Up and Rising Down (it's not the first time they've named an album after a book - 1999's Things Fall Apart was named for the Chinua Achebe novel). I actually went to the library and picked up the book myself when I realized the link. The book is a brick - over 750 pages of it (and we're not talking summer beach blanket reading), and it's only an abridgment of the seven volume, 3,500 page version. Vollmann's stance is an interesting one; in the book he posits that violence can be rationalized and justified, and that by careful analysis (what he calls "moral calculus"), we can determine how and why governments come to perform acts of violence. I've just cracked open the book myself, so I won't pretend to be an expert on it, but the premise is an eye-arching one.

The reason I start by talking about the title is because I think it's a clear indication of why The Roots have been around for so long, continue to make music that is warmly received, and continue to receive such positive feedback in a genre known for one hit wonders where singles are king and albums typically full of filler. There is a lot more meat on a Roots' song compared to a lot of entire hip-hop albums out there today.

The stand out track for me (and it may be because I've been listening to Nigeria 70: Lagos Jump a lot lately) is I Will Not Apologize, which is a total throw-back Fela Kuti track. It hits you the first time you listen to it and I'm always finding myself looking forward to getting to it when I've been throwing the album in. The rest of the album is just as good, although to me it feels a little darker when stacking it up against their last release, Game Theory.

If you're in Philly on June 7th, you gotta check out the show. If not, check out the other tour dates below.

Visit their website, their label Def Jam, and become their friend on MySpace.


The Roots - The Show (Doug E. Fresh cover) : In Tha Beginning...There Was Rap

The Roots (Feat. Cody Chesnutt) - The Seed : Live From Bonnaroo 2003

Other Upcoming Tour Dates

15 Washington, DC- Constitution Hall*
16 Norfolk, VA- Chrysler Hall*
17 Richmond, VA- Landmark Theater*
20 Boca Raton, FL- Mizner Park*
23 Atlanta, GA- Fox Theater*
24 Chillicothe, IL- Summer Camp Music Festival
25 Los Angeles, CA- UCLA Jazz and Reggae Festival
27 Nashville, TN- Ryman Auditorium*
29 St. Louis, MO- Fox Theater*
30 Chicago, IL- Chicago Theater*
31 Chicago, IL- Chicago Theater*

2 Denver, CO- The Fillmore*
4 Eugene, OR- Cuthbert Amphitheater
5 Seattle, WA- Marymoor Park*
7 Philadelphia, PA- The Roots Picnic @ Festival Pier
8 Oakland, CA- Paramount Theater*
10 San Diego, CA- Humphrey's*
12 Los Angeles, CA- Greek Theater*
13 Birmingham, AL- City Stages Festival
14 Phoenix, AZ- Mesa Amphitheatre*
17 Houston, TX- Verizon Wireless Theater
18 Dallas, TX- Nokia Theater
19 New Orleans, LA- House of Blues
22 Rochester, NY- Rochester International Jazz Festival

4 Milwaukee, WI- Summerfest 2008
20 Commerce City, CO- Dick's Sporting Goods Park

8 Jersey City, NJ- All Points West Festival @ Liberty State Park

* w/ Erykah Badu

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