The Deal: Hip-hop icons turned revolutionary television house band release their ninth album.
The Good: Whoever thought playing intro music for Jimmy Fallon and slow jammin' the news might make The Roots mundane as an act was wrong. They're as mainstream as they've ever been but still avant garde enough to pick indie bands and artists up for the ride on this album. Noticeably down-tempo but inarguably funky, songs like "Walk Alone" and "Dear God 2.0" set the tone of the album. "Radio Daze" and "How I Got Over" featured the classic Roots sound you'd expect. For every reason a remix of John Legend's "Doin' It Again" was unnecessary, The Roots managed to enhance the original. Legend's second appearance on the album, "The Fire," is fast on its way to becoming a staple of sports arenas. Lyrically, it felt like Black Thought was working through a rapidly approaching mid-life crisis. Acknowledging and prioritizing his life but managing to pull out glimpses of the "old" Black Thought (where weed and women were a regular theme) – that lets you know it's not all politics and aging-introspection.
The Bad: There wasn't that classic Roots Crew jam song on this record like "The Seed 2.0" was on Phrenology. At times the band sounded guarded and subdued, which isn't true to life.
The Verdict: Dope as expected but different from prior projects. Indie influences and the changing nature of their lives recording this album shine through while we watch them speed toward their 40s and 25 years together.