I'm thinking about starting a blog or something, since God forbid I do something productive with my life. So this is a review that I wrote in the event that I actually follow through with it...I probably won't.
The Roots--Rising Down (2008)
Like a lot of people, when I heard "Get Busy" and "75 Bars" I had high expectations for this here album. So when I downloaded this (niggas don't support shit, right?) I was really looking forward to something great.
1. The Pow Wow (Intro) 0/0
The Roots had record label problems apparently.
2. Rising Down (Hum Drum) (featuring Mos Def, Styles P & Dice Raw)
Two words: cot damn. These cats are not fucking around. 6/5
3. Get Busy (featuring Dice Raw, Peedi Crakk & DJ Jazzy Jeff)
See above. 7/5
4. @ 15
I guess this is what Black Thought and them were doing in high school. Now them cheelrens are on that "Crank Dat"...making youtube videos of themselves and shit. Maybe I'm being melodramatic, but I take this little interlude track as a testament to just how far we've fallen as a society. Black Thought was imitating fast rap greats like Kane and now niggas is imitating fucking Soulja Boy. I'm afraid for the future... 0/0
5. 75 Bars (Black's Reconstruction) (featuring Tuba Gooding Jr.)
Three words this time: Jesus Tap Dancing Christ! I take it that this is a direct shot at anyone trying to make the claim that Black Thought is the b-word. Dude goes off. "I'm in the field with a shield and a spear nigga/I'm in your girl with her heels in the air, nigga." 8/5.
6. Becoming Unwritten
Some old weird interlude beat. I guess it's okay...I guess. 0/0.
7. Criminal (featuring Truck North & Saigon)
And this is where shit starts going bad. After a nice string off strong contenders for song of the year (seriously), the Legendary Roots Crew turns in a backing track that sounds kind of, for lack of a better word...gay. Add some forgettable verses and you've got yourself the album's first mis-step. 2.5/5
8. I Will Not Apologize (featuring Porn, Dice Raw, & Talib Kweli)
Who's decision was it to let this nigga Porn on the track? This fool really stinks up an otherwise nice track (I'm a sucker for Afro-Beat) with a pretty amateurish verse. And why just have Kweli on the hook? Why not give him Porn's spot? 3/5
9. I Can’t Help It (featuring Malik B & Porn)
And I can't help but skip this track. Musically, this might be the low point of the album. I couldn't force myself to really try to check the rhymes on this. I mean, I know everyone tried to tell me that "Birthday Girl" was the single worst event in human history, but I would have much rather they included that than this. It's that bad....but I guess not quite as bad as whatever they're playing on the radio right now so I'll still give it a 2. 2/5.
10. Singing Man (featuring Porn & Truck North)
This one I like. While Porn turns in another weak verse, his flow isn't as awkward and distracting as it was on "I Will Not Apologize." Black Thought easily steals the show with lines like "13 but he look 35/Changed his name to little No Man Survive." And the backing track? Sounds like an updated version of something they would have done on Illadelph Halflife. I likes. 4/5
11. Up There (Unwritten) (featuring Mercedes Martinez)
A short track that kind of reminds me of something off of Game Theory....mainly because of how weak the chorus is. That album had a lot of bad choruses. 3/5
12. Lost Desire (featuring Malik B & Talib Kweli)
While not exactly on par with some of the first few tracks, this one is a step back in the right direction. A strong backing track+strong vocals=a strong track. Again, Black Thought seems determined to shake any notion of him being boring. 4/5.
13. The Show (featuring Common)
And this one is a step back in the wrong direction. It's got this bassline that's kind of like the bassline for "Hip-Hop" by Dead Prez but not as good and some military sounding drums. If that sounds like it doesn't work it's because it doesn't. Rhymewise, ain't nothing wrong with this (Common actually comes decent) but the backing track really takes the air out of the whole affair. 2.5/5
14. Rising Up (featuring Wale & Chrisette Michelle)
This one is nuts! The vibe on this one is decidedly more celebratory than anything else on this album. I'm especially feeling the Go-Go percussion. Very nice. 5/5
15. Live at WPFW, 1994 (Hidden Track)
Hey, remember when a freestyle actually meant something that you came up with off the top of your head and not just some verse that you haven't put on a song yet? The Roots remember. Also, according to the dialogue at the end of this track, white people don't like getting screamed at. Who'd a thunk?
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
I know a lot of folks are going to try to tell me that this is the best album of the year, but those people will be wrong. While this really does start off great, there's a run of tracks in the middle that are weakened by a few seriously amateurish guest spots and weak backing tracks. I guess, if it's an upside it's that there was none of that Wahud Amhad spoken word shit like on Game Theory.
Best tracks: "Get Busy", "Rising Up", "45 Bars"
And yeah, I'm a hater. If you thought this was the album of the year, I'm not mad at you.
Ya tu sabes.