"How I Got Over" by The Roots

The Roots
How I Got Over

Def Jam Recordings
2010

Review

Black Thought is ridiculous (his "Dear God 2.0" lyrics deserve their own post), the band sounds great, the guest stars are on point...it's just, great. GREAT. If I gush for over 500 words, it won't be enough...

Let me talk a bit about the experience of listening to this album as compared to that of the one that preceded it from the same group. "Rising Down" was about how the world was going to shit. I didn't think that that album was very good. Yes, I understood the place from where it came. It was a place of disappointment and desperation. I always believe that there's hope; hope is what we as human beings are best at. So now you have The Roots with a major attitude adjustment and a new album titled "How I Got Over". I like to interpret this title as "How The Roots got over their frustration". Let me tell you this, this album is amazing. For me, it starts with the message of hope and of how things are going to be OK. Sure, they touch on how things are not exactly perfect. But there's a real sense of "Hey, this is life, we go through some things, and we keep hope alive and push forward". It happens to present this message time and time again as multiple conversations between the MC's and God, specifically in people admitting that they do not understand why bad things must happen and yet how they maintain their faith in spite of acknowledging this simple fact of life (see "Dear God 2.0", "How I Got Over", and "The Day"). For me, this message is much easier to digest than the one of frustration and disappointment that was shown on their last effort.

When I saw that The Roots were taking the nightly job of being the house band for Jimmy Fallon, the first thing that crossed my mind was, "How the hell did Jimmy Fallon pull that off?". The second thing that crossed my mind was "What effect will this have on their music?". After seeing them on the show a few times, it occurred to me that - shit - these guys are amazing and with daily practice they can only get better. I don't know if you've seen the show, but The Roots are never off and Black Thought is a really good singer (surprising, since he hadn't really been known for that before). So the message here is one of focus through practice - because the band has gotten better and basically you can see their progression in nightly increments. I feel like this group is at their peak (not now, but) right freaking now and that there is no conceivable reason for them to come down. In my estimation, Quest Love is an extremely underrated producer and evidence of that fact is all here on wax (man). The band is focused almost in a pissed off way. Well, I mean sort of like the energy you have when you are angry with it (when are you more motivated to do something than when you really angry?)- which is not to say that they ARE in fact angry. And for me, that is the other difference in their performance since "Rising Down".

Plus! They have great taste in collaborators. Blu is on this record. The Monsters of folk are on this record. Phonte is on this record. John Legend is on this record. Um, Dice Raw is here too and he is very lucky to be good friends with The Legendary Roots crew, but I digress and we were talking about positivity. So yeah, good stuff. Laser focus is good (speaking of lasers, The Major Lazer crying baby sample makes an appearance here on "Hustla").

Say what you will about Hip Hop as a genre of music. There are many who cannot appreciate the artistry involved in it. As an argument against those who would say otherwise, allow me to present exhibit A - "How I Got Over" by The Roots.

4.364 out of 5

Track Ratings

1. A Peace of Light (feat. Amber Coffman, Angel Deradoorian & Haley Dekle) (01:50)
2. Walk Alone (feat. Truck North, P.O.R.N. & Dice Raw) (03:55) 4
3. Dear God 2.0 (feat. Monsters of Folk) (03:59) 5
4. Radio Daze (feat. Blu, P.O.R.N. & Dice Raw) (04:16) 5
5. Now or Never (feat. Phonte & Dice Raw) (04:34) 5
6. How I Got Over (feat. Dice Raw) (03:36) 5
7. Dillatude: The Flight of Titus (00:42)
8. The Day (feat. Blu, Phonte & Patty Crash) (03:44) 4
9. Right On (feat. Joanna Newsom & STS) (03:36) 5
10. Doin' It Again (02:24) 4
11. The Fire (feat. John Legend) (03:41) 5
12. Tunnel Vision (00:40)
13. Web 20/20 (feat. Peedi Peedi & Truck North) (02:46) 3
14. Hustla (feat. STS) (02:56) 3