February 23, 2016

The Roots "Things Fall Apart" (Rap Pages, 3/99)

"What is it about these cats that makes them shine through on any project? Is it the wordsmith vocals of Black Thought and Malik B., or the musical stylings of Kamal, Hub, ?uestlove and Rahzel the Godfather of Noyze? In truth, it's both. The two elements combine like hydrogen and oxygen to make a sound so fluid Aquaman would drown. On their fourth CD, aptly titled Things Fall Apart, they do, though not in a detrimental way. The Roots simply choose to travel a musically less familiar path - that of a stripped-down sonic mixture - carrying with them only the bare essentials. This minimalist approach is a new avenue for the crew, but one they maneuver with ease, ever careful not to tread lightly and feign a noncommittal stance. Things Fall Apart is an opus that gathers speed along the way, the whole while subtly introducing the impressive lyrical skills of Dice Raw."

"Step Into The Realm," a harp-based track, stops and starts like an instant-replay highlight shifting from fast-forward to rewind, while the cool-out vibe of "Ain't Sayin Nothin New" smoothly soothes. "Double Trouble" (a pairing with Black Star front man Mos Def) and the Hip-Hop ode "Act Too (Love Of My Life)" - for all intents and purposes "I Used To Love H.E.R." revisited, with an assist from Common - are both worthy tag-team duos. "You Got Me," perhaps the best joint on the album, sees the fellas reuniting with their collaborative compadre, the ubiquitous Erykah Badu. The catchy singsong hook and minuscule guitar loop will catch heads off guard. Thought not groundbreaking like Do You Want More?!!!?! or saturated with guest appearances like Illadelph Halflife, Things Fall Apart is a welcome return for The Roots." - Rap Pages, March 1999. Full review is available below.