OLD POST THAT NEVER MADE IT ONLINE………until now
Alas, I have returned to grace your computer monitors and/or smartphones, depending on where you are reading this review from. It’s been a while, I know (I DO have a life, you know), but I felt like I had to come back based on the recent albums that I’ve been listening to. A burst of inspiration came upon me, and I said “self…it is time…again.” SO HERE I AM! Enjoy it while it lasts (like I’m actually going anywhere? Smh).
Undun is the most recent project by Philadelphia hip hop/soul-rock group, The Roots. Now, when you think the roots, you think of “Oh, the niggas on Jimmy Kimmel?” *sigh* YES! Them. They actually DO make music (You need their discography in your life) outside from their late night gig. This project is exactly what Kanye’s line “this is way too much, I need a moment,” was referring to. MAN! This project….no. This MASTERPIECE is exactly what it is. Masterful. Lyrics. Production. Audial artistry. SHALL I CONTINUE?! It’s rhetorical, don’t actually….ok never mind. Let me get into this.
The intro was pretty trippy based on the fact that all you hear is what appears to be the beginning of one of The Weeknd’s many depressing songs that feels like you should be high off of oxy & ecstasy (see what I did there?), but the build up of the high pitch frequency and the noises all coming together, sets the mood to flow into the next song. Why is Black Thought so underrated? How is this allowed to happen? I’ll never understand it. He’s one of the most lyrical rappers in the game, and he’s been CONSISTENT for, oh…I don’t know. DECADES?! It’s unfathomable. This song (Sleep) describes him in a state of being asleep. It’s like if Inception took the life of music and made the conversion to hip hop, this would be it. He’s fighting himself in one verse. It’s an internal battle with him and his sleep. Sleep is used in conjunction to death, as the old rap lore goes, “sleep is the cousin of death,” so that was easy to pick up. However; I still enjoyed how it was used and that it only took one verse to really grab me and make me think. Mental stimulation is what’s needed. Especially in this day in age. I’m disappointed a bit that it was only one verse, but it was still effective in delivery. Note that, this entire album flowed SO SEEMLESSLY within the tracks, so it didn’t feel like 12; it felt like 1 long one. I’m happy that Big K.R.I.T got shine on this album. He released 2 great mixtapes this year (K.R.IT Wuz Here & Return of 4Eva), and he’s been rewarded (a cameo at the BET Hip Hop Awards, and now this feature on a classic album). His subject material that he rhymes about is about real life struggle, his coming ups, and he’s such a humble person (saw him in concert in May. Yup. Be mad) that he’s a real down to Earth rapper when he’s not talking about girls and sliding down poles and whatnot. He’s very poetic (listen to The Vent if you have doubts on K.R.I.T). Again, only a 2 verse song, but it’s the production and the musical composition that DRIVE this album. And it’s great because sometimes you don’t need lyrics to have a great album. You need stuff to vibe out to and recollect your thoughts. Feel good music. Black Thought….again….WHY IS HE UNDERRATED! He has great metaphors and you can hear the hunger and passion in his rhymes. It’s musical abstract art. That’s it. The majority of this album is filled with dope music to just chill out to, but at the same time you can listen to the lyrics and get lost in the hypnotic trance that it sets you in. The features on the album were suitable because with The Roots, you’re not expecting Jay Z and the “who’s who” of rappers to assemble as a collective on this type of album. The Roots are a band and they create their own magic on their own, it’s not hard, but the features were what they were. They weren’t terrible, but weren’t like “OHHHHHHHHH SHHIIIIIIIT” amazing. The choices of samples on this album were phenomenal. It felt like it was inspired by Kanye West a little bit, but then again, and a lot of artists took his model for creating a theatrical sounding album in MBDTF and applied it to their own projects. As I listen to this album (which I bought), it’s crazy to just review it song for song, because as I stated earlier, it FEELS like 1 song, and breaking it up doesn’t even do it justice. I strongly recommend listening/buying this album. It’s THAT good, believe me. 5/5 and possibly the best album of the year. If it had come out earlier in the year, there’s no doubt that it would be Grammy nominated. In the middle of the album, it gets aggressive with its pacing, and really gets deep in the soul. A mocked sample of something a Black Panther would be preaching in the 1960s just makes you want to grab a Members Only jacket and a black Beret with some OJ Simpson leather Black gloves and throw up the Black Power fist. That’s all truth, because I almost did it. What I liked the most about this album is that it showed the diversity that The Roots are capable of executing. Hip Hip/Rock/Classical. How do you just randomly throw in some cellos/violins/pianos and then come out of nowhere with percussion? ABSTRACT! As I stated before. That’s all it is, and that’s what this album should be listened as. Black Thought provides the perfect narrative for this piece of art, because of the metaphoric songs like Sleep, Lighthouse, Stomp, and my personal favourite, Tip The Scale (Wu Tang sample CAUGHT ME). Last thing, from Redford to Finality is probably the best composition of music I’ve heard in a long time because I’ve never heard such a mash up of instruments on what is classified as a “hip hop” album. The Roots took what Kanye laid down and pretty much dragged it out to the next stage. It’s definitely a timeless classic that will be played many years down the road. More people will know about this album as the years go by. BUY IT! BECAUSE IT’S GREAT! But, for now, That’s My Opinion, this is my review
That’s My Word & It STiXX