Music News

The Roots

The Roots' latest has been cast as a one-way trip to Bummer Town, and that's understandable: Thematically, it's heavier than Jared Fogle before he realized how much money he could make crediting his weight loss to sandwiches. Nonetheless, the disc's seriousness and smarts represent a welcome departure from commercial hip-hop's current it's-all-good bias.

The title track sets the tone with erudite rhymes about our out-of-control planet underscored by drummer ?uestlove's brawny boom-bap. And if the psychological study "Singing Man" boasts more nerve than insight, "I Will Not Apologize" gives defiance a jolting infusion of Afrobeat, and "Rising Up" shines a light in the darkness.

The results won't be confused with a party record. Still, the group deserves props for Rising Down instead of dumbing down.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts