What We're Reading:

G&B: Apologies to Sting

It's been a blast, folks. The Worlds Most Popular Podcast is signing off. Truth to be told, there's not enough hours in the day for ...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

undun: beautiful musical journey

To really understand The Roots 13th album, Undun, you have to understand the concept behind the story. As band lead, Questlove explained;
“At this point in our career we’d like for our work to have a unifying theme, and an experiential quality,” says Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson, 40. “We’ve been intentionally making our albums shorter in length so that they can be experienced as a continuous work. The music is band-oriented with an eye on the moody cinematic. As a DJ, I am the King of playlists, but I don’t want our albums to feel like a playlist or a mixtape for that matter. We want to tell stories that work within the album format and we want the stories to be nuanced and useful to people. undun is the story of this kid who becomes criminal, but he wasn’t born criminal. He’s not the nouveau exotic primitive bug-eyed gunrunner like Tupac’s character Bishop in Juice… he’s actually thoughtful and is neither victim nor hero. Just some kid who begins to order his world in a way that makes the most sense to him at a given moment… At the end of the day… isn’t that what we all do?”

The album is a musical dedication of someone's life, but it also reflects the diversity Hip Hop stands - or stood - for. An eclectic process of beats and instruments tied together with lyrics to make the listener think, and enjoy. I won't call this a true Hip Hop album as the record delves into so many other areas of music. As experimental as it is, it doesn't seem out of place as we know the Roots to always be experimental and try something new while keeping with its Hip Hop roots. The use of the keyboard on Undun is a welcomed mix to most of the tracks even thought they might be subtle, they give that extra touch of brilliance. Just check Bilal's feature joint, The OtherSide. What most would find interesting is the conclusion of Undun where they close the short record with four band heavy instrumental pieces (Redford, Possibility, Will to Power, and Finality) that gives the album closure in a peaceful, poetic way.  It's like they are putting the band to sleep. The dark, layer filled album, sounds like a last album. A last ode to their 12 previous albums. If this is the Roots' goodbye, I won't be mad. They're leaving the stage with a masterpiece that makes the fans wanting....More. Much like the Roots previous gems, Do you Want More???!! and Things Fall Apart, Undun is a classic that goes beyond being  just a great Hip Hop album, to being  a masterful piece of musical genius. The Roots will have you Undun on the first listen.