August 06, 2014

The Roots "Distortion To Static" (The Source, 8/94)

"With all the talk about live instruments in hip-hop, there has yet to be a group that truly captures the gritty excitement of real rap using live players. Too often, "unplugged" rap sounds too wimpy and too disconnected from the dirty, mechanical funk we hip-hop heads expect. Well, hold down your samplers, because a crew from Philadelphia is tryin' to change all that. Make way for The Roots. Sporting a four-piece band, a funky drummer and two skilled MCs, The Roots are definitely on some next shit. Their sensibility and approach is based in true hip-hop, so on a certain level ther sound is the same as any good rap group. But since the drums, bass and moody keys are live, the familiar hip-hop terrain is charged with a mellow funk energy." Check out "Distortion to Static" below...

"The A-side brings a head-snappin' beat punctuated by sharp drum blasts, with the slow-but-strong pacing of a Black Moon or Crooklyn Dodgers. Behind the music, the sound of record static is laid, and sometimes the beat drops so that lyrics are dropped on top of that friction. Lead MC Black Thought weaves complex rhymes around the track, making the flow sound like a rat-tat-tat-tat of rhyming syllables. The subject matter is abstract, but the word choices are intelligent. They're the kind of rhymes thick with double-meanings that take more than a few listens to fully decipher. MC Malik B makes only an intentionally brief, funny appearance on this cut... It appears that in one swoop, The Roots have accomplished two difficult tasks: putting Philadelphia back on the hip-hop map and creating an "alternative" take on rap that's really worth a listen." - The Source, 8/94.