Drummer Ahmir ?uestlove Thompson, who anchors the Roots, has an answer for those who consider the group's strong new album, Rising Down, to be overly serious. "There's clearly a generational gap that doesn't see hip-hop as anything but playful fodder," Thompson says in a sprawling Q&A accessible at blogs.westword.com/backbeat. "I come from a place where this is actually a normal record. This would be a normal record for Boogie Down Productions or Public Enemy." Not that the collective is out of touch with today's music. Its sound remains as vital as the rhymes spat by Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter, who delivers the defiant "I Will Not Apologize" and the freestyled "75 Bars (Black's Reconstruction)" with equal passion. Thompson understands the past, as he demonstrates with his production of Lay It Down, the first-rate new Al Green disc. But he cedes the future to no one.