The Roots Get Live

Oct. 4, 1996 -- While hip-hop isn't always thought of as a band medium, the group called The Roots definitely is a band -- and when their latest album, "illadelph halflife," debuted at number 21 on last week's "Billboard" chart, we decided to soak up some of their live sound.

MTV: The Roots, a Philadelphia based hip-hop band have been creating an original sound for almost 10 years. They don't use electronic drum beats or sampling, but actually play their own instruments.

HUB, bass: Everybody started playing musical instruments, I think Ahmir started playing at the age of 4, (off camera-"two"). I started formal piano lessons at eight...

KAMAL, Keyboards: Me at five.

HUB: Kamal started his training at five and everyone has studied various styles of music. Read, write, arrange and compose as well.

QUESTLOVE, drums: Around the age of 10 or 11 this next door neighbor of mine had this old school mix tape, or they weren't mixed tapes back then, but he had

a tape of Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five at the Roxy. From then on that was like, I became obsessed.

MTV: On their latest release, "illadelph halflife," their organic sound is strengthened by collaborations with artists such as Q-tip from A Tribe Called Quest, Raphael Sadiq from Toni, Tone, Tony, D'Angelo, fellow Philly artist Bahamadia and some soprano sound from Amel Larrieux from Groove Theory.

BLACK THOUGHT, vocals: There is no one particular person, one particular collaboration that it's like, "Oh, that's my favorite!" Each person, we spent some quality time with.

QUESTLOVE: Hip-hop is a collage of different types of music and that's what we're trying to demonstrate on this album. So be it as though we have someone playing the harp or bag pipes, or if we have some jazz greats comin' in. They're definitely comin' into our world. You go to a blues club now, you'll be lucky to find 12 black people sitting in the audience, or if you go to a jazz club...

and the same thing for hip-hop. I'm sayin' that the love just for the art form is lost. If you forget your history and you forget the pioneers who paved the way for you and who started it... I mean you just can't throw them away. You can't just throw them away like that.