The Roots - Rising Down

Label: Def Jam Recordings
Release Date: April 29th, 2008
Producers: Tahir Jamal, Radji & Khari Mateen, Richard Nichols (+ more)


  1. The Pow Wow
  2. Rising Down (w. Mos Def & Styles P)
  3. Get Busy (w. Dice Raw, Peedi Peedi & DJ Jazzy Jeff)
  4. @15
  5. 75 Bars (Black's Reconstruction)
  6. Becoming Unwritten
  7. Criminal
  8. "I Will Not Apologize" (w. Porn, Dice Raw & Talib Kweli)
  9. I Can't Help It (w. Malik B, Porn, Dice Raw & Mercedes)
  10. Singing Man (w. Porn, Truck North & Dice Raw)
  11. Unwritten (w. Mercedes Martinez)
  12. Lost Desire (w. Malik B. & Talib Kweli)
  13. The Show (w. Common & Dice Raw)
  14. Rising Up (w. Wale & Chrisette Michele)
  15. Birthday Girl (bonus track) (w. Shane Clark, Kelli Scarr)
  16. Pow Wow 2

To purchase this album click here: Rising Down

If you’re still not a Roots fan, what’s the hold up? Rocking since their 1993 Organix début up until now their tenth proper go around, Rising Down (Def Jam), the Philadelphia Rap band have scored a legion of devotees. Like Shawty Lo dey know, as in their fans, what to expect from a new Roots album.

Nevertheless ad nauseum critical speculation on what this ?uestlove and Black Thought led outfit will pull next and whether it will finally get them over that mainstream hump abounds before all their new projects drops. All the jibber jabber manages to drown out one thing, the Roots make dope albums.

Starting off with a heated convo from their Geffen Records days (“The Pow Wow”) the album dives into the Mos Def and Styles P assisted title track. Literally buzzworthy with its electro fuzzing backdrop, along with Thought, the trio goes into everything from global warming to drug sales to evil tech. All anchored by the song’s bleak refrain: “You don’t see that something’s wrong Earth’s spinning out of control / Everything’s for sale even the souls, so go get God on the phone.”

While the ominous tone felt throughout Rising Down falls right in line with 2006’s Game Theory, also continued from that clip in the Roots catalog is a re-dedication to two chief elements; hard drumming from ?uest and Thought’s endless bars of lyrical bombast.

Of course, the homies lend some assistance too. O.G. Roots affiliate Dice Raw makes “W.E.B. DuBois meeting Heavy D and the Boys” sound fresh while Roc-a-fella expatriate Peedi Peedi steals the show on charisma alone on the rushing “Get Busy.”

A gang of guests new (P.O.R.N., Truck North) and old (Talib Kweli, Common on the exceptional “The Show”) round out a crowded guest list while Malik B back on a pair of tracks seals the deal. And despite what you may think, Thought does not get outshined. One listen to “75 Bars (Black’s Reconstruction)” or the too short aural ride “Unwritten” should let you know who is in charge here.

But a having a full rack of shiny parts does not automatically make a superior product. But the Roots avoid underachieving by mixing all these ingredients into a cohesive album. For example, beginning with the soothing, Saigon assisted “Criminal” to the funking “I Will Not Apologize” to the industrial grooves of the M-Ilitant featuring “I Can’t Help It,” the adept sequencing maximizes each songs impact. This is an album meant to be played through, not merely broken down into bite size iPod morsels.

The album’s apex and perhaps its best cut, the Go-Go infused, Chrisette Michelle and Wale featuring “Rising Up” does not cozily fit into the album’s temperamental mood. But that’s part of the Roots’ secret of success. Besides the limiting tag of “Hip-Hop Band” the Illadelph squad has been nearly impossible to peg.

Sure fans can expect a boom bap record or a record with some singing from a set-to-blow-up-later artist, but all the other intangibles like new members/instruments (a sousaphone?), “new” jacks (Truck North) or the novelty of discovering how they flipped it this go around keeps nouveau and vintage fans on their toes.

When it comes to keeping their old guard happy while ushering new acolytes into the fray, the Roots always rise to the occasion.

Review by: By Alvin "Aqua" Blanco:
(This is the opinion of the author and is no way endorsed or influenced by any outside source.)

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