Monday, May 16, 2011

This Music Moment- The Roots 2001

So, it does stink to start a post this way, but the music i want you all to hear and appreciate is so far unavailable in my standard pre-blogpost digging; maybe you guys here at the Swords can help me out with finding a link, but i do hate starting off by saying i do not have the sufficient links to share with you.

That being said, i love hiphop. As i have said many times before in many, many blog posts about my history with the style, hip hop is a strange beast; for the most part, i look to strong production and smooth rhyme flow in the artists that end up really sticking with me. As a highschool kid graduating in 2002, a few of my close friends had a deeper love of hiphop and rap than i did, but i sucked it all up in long blunted cruises, listening to and talking about all kinds of music, and why we loved our respective favorite genres.

Up until that point in my ever expanding library, constantly sharing and listening to so many different styles of music, i knew nothing about hip hop. It was just loops and vocals; i liked bands. I liked the idea of 4 or 5 guys getting together and writing music, as a singular unit. Hip hop always seemed to me as a cop out on the part of the frontman. In my negligence, i thought of the music behind hip hop as something produced way behind the scenes, and once it was structured and completely arranged, only then would a rapper take center stage and become the focus of an entire outfit of producers and writers. Didnt seem right to me; someone was being left out of the spotlight.

Before this one day in august 2001, while i was a junior on summer vacation from highschool, i cannot recall how much of the work of The Roots i was familiar with. The Area: One tour was an event to look forward to nonetheless; what a goddamned lineup. It was created and planned by Moby, with such acts as Incubus, OutKast, Paul Oakenfold, and The Roots. I fucking Loved incubus at the time, and most of my anticipation revolving around the festival was that i would be seeing them for a second time.

The show was a hilarious revelation as a young impressionable teenager; just blunted festival goodness on a hot summer day with good friends, too young to drink but getting bombed as all hell and listening to the sounds from the main stage all afternoon and well into the evening. I dont remember the order of the lineup, but as i mentioned, i was looking forward to some incubus-styled metal/jam band music and hoping to find more artists similar to them. That was my shit at the time; KoRn, Incubus, early Limp Bizkit.. Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Green Day, etc., but leaning towards a more melodic metal style such as the one incubus had created to easily separate themselves from the crowd. But Area: One was a hip hop heavy festival, and i was naively surprised by the artists i was seeing perform before thousands of people.

The Roots were announced at some time around sunset, and after a good afternoon of smaller hip hop outfits, i was very mystified by the amount of people on the stage. They had a good 6 man crew on various mics and instruments, a bunch of chill looking dudes taking their positions on their stage and immediately busting into a setlist they had mastered on their Things Fall Apart tour, which was also recorded as a live album, The Roots Come Alive. They start most of their albums with a brief spoken introduction, without music, as they also did on this particular tour. Black Thought implores the audience to "rock this record all night long"; if the audience is down, we will have a sick ass show and we will rock it for you til the break of dawn. Immediately after their quite minimal "hello" to the audience, they bust into The Next Movement:

The live version is much heavier; stripped of its female backup vocals and other studio hijinks, it was just the tight band of keys, bass, drums, Malik B on main vocals with Rahzel and Scratch backing his rhymes with harmonies and instrumental-based vocal work, and a nice dj to top things off. As a live band, they fucking rock it. We all had a great time; we rocked it all night long. Who gave a shit about moby by that point, everyone wanted OutKast to just come out and join the stage with The Roots for their show too; just please, no one leave the stage. Unfortunately, the roots finished up, and OutKast did in fact perform next, and took a show that i would not have believed could get any better to another level. OutKast was a more successful outfit, but oh so much smaller than The Roots; i had found my hiphop group to study, a full creative team of folk producing an entire sound as a hip hop outfit and showing me how deep the style could get. Enjoy, suckas.

illadelph halflife

things fall apart

p.s: these two albums covered a majority of what i heard at the Area: One show, but i cannot find their live album The Roots Come Alive. If you dig this stuff, also check out Phrenology, which was the current album they were writing and certainly played a few tracks off it. Help with the Roots Come Alive link guys?

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