The intended first single from the Roots' new album, which features Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump, has fallen off of "Rising Down," due April 29 via Def Jam.See Also:
Drummer and co-producer Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson tells Billboard.com that the track, "Birthday Girl," has been bumped simply because it does not fit the tone of what he calls "the most incendiary, political album of our career to date."
"It was just sticking out like a sore thumb," Thompson says of "Birthday Girl," which was built from an idea that's been around since sessions for the Roots' 2004 album "The Tipping Point." "Initially it was going to kick-start the record ... but then that didn't work. Then we were going to have a 'halftime' thing where it was gonna come in the middle of the record as a break from the political thing, but that didn't work, either.
"Then we tried to make it the last song on the record, and that wasn't working," he continues. "Then we tried to make it the hidden track, and that wasn't effective. Basically the album was complete; it starts with 'Rising Down' and it ends with 'Rising Up,' so that makes more sense to me."
Thompson says that even though it won't be on the album, "Birthday Girl" will still be available as an iTunes exclusive later this month. The Roots and Stump -- who became friendly with the band at its 2004 pre-Grammy Awards jam session -- have filmed a video for "Birthday Girl," which will be available on viral outlets.
"Rising Down" also features guest appearances by Common, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Saigon and others. The political tone, Thompson says, was inspired by circumstances in the Roots' native Philadelphia, where high school dropout rates are 45 percent and crime has sharply increased.
"Add up all that, plus being in your mid-30s and working 300 nights a year and this being an election year -- yeah, all that's what this album's about," Thompson says.
The Roots kick off a U.S. tour tomorrow (April 9), which includes appearances at the Green Apple Festival in Washington, D.C., the Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. An eight-show run with Erykah Badu begins May 4 in Detroit.
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