Monday, July 12, 2010


So now I have three favorite albums of 2010. The Drive-By Truckers' The Big To-Do, The Black Keys' Brothers and now I'll add The Roots' How I Got Over.

It's not secret to long time No Expiration readers know that I'm a big fan of The Roots and their drummer Questlove.

I'll admit that I was a bit worried when I heard that they were collaborating with indie-rock artists (many of whom they met on Jimmy Fallon's show).  Questlove is the kind of guy who appreciates all kind of music, and who seems to get along with everyone. The ladies from Dirty Projectors (one of the most overrated bands in recent memory - but the ladies did a great job backing up Black Star on Fallon a few months back) sing on the intro piece, "A Peace Of Light." Some of the guys from Monsters Of Folk are featured on "Dear God 2.0," a sequel to their song "Dear God" written by Jim James (of My Morning Jacket). That works really really well. Indie harp artist Joanna Newsom is on "Right On," and Patty Crash is on "The Day," which is one of the true highlights. My favorite collab is with John Legend, who sings on "The Fire." (They also sample him on the previous song, "Doin' It Again.") (Now I really can't wait for the Legend/Roots album featuring a number of socially relevant covers).

The Roots have always been great at collaborating without losing their sound, and I think the Fallon show has only strengthened that, so it always ends up sounding like them. There's also hip-hop guests, some who have worked with the band before (Peedi Peedi, P.O.R.N. and Dice Raw), and at least one newer name (STS).

The centerpiece of the album, and my favorite song, is the title track, which features Dice Raw.  And I think Black Thought even sings a bit on that track! The lyric is one of their best ever: "Out on the street, where I grew up, first thing you learn is not to give a fuck.  That kind of thinking will get you nowhere. Someone has to care!" Who else is writing stuff so simple, poignant and elegant these days.  That puts them in Marvin Gaye/Curtis Mayfield turf. When you're there, you don't have to worry about keeping up with wacka flacka or drake. They're not so much about this moment in hip-hop, they're timeless.  That's how I've always felt about the group, but this album hammers it home.

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