It's been three years since the Roots released their critically acclaimed
The Roots Come Alive, but one could hardly call these guys lazy.
The Philly-based collective has busied itself by backing up Jay-Z for his
"MTV Unplugged" session; by guesting on new Talib Kweli, Mystic and Rawkus
Soundbombing projects; and by maintaining its reputation as the best
live show in hip-hop. With a dance card so packed, it's no wonder the group
was forced to delay the June release of its sixth album, Phrenology.
But at long last, the disc is done and due in October. According to Roots
drummer ?uestlove, Phrenology will be the group's "fastest,
shortest, most aggressive album" yet, with a diverse host of musical
influences from Kool G Rap to Queen to the Rolling Stones (see "Roots Look To Grow On 'Most Aggressive' Album
According to a Roots spokesperson, the first single is slated to be "Break
You Off," featuring D'Angelo on vocals and penned by Scratch, Kamal, Ben
Kenney and Musiq. Other standout tracks include "Complexity," featuring Jill
Scott; "Pussy Galore," a tirade on the use of sexual selling power; and a
duet between Nelly Furtado and Black Thought called "Sacrifice." The Roots
aren't shaking up their conscious soul formula too drastically, however. The
album is again closed out with a poem, this time penned by Amiri Baraka.
Anxious Roots devotees may well get an early earful of Phrenology
when the group hits the road for the end-of-summer Smokin' Grooves tour with
headliners Lauryn Hill and Outkast. And even with tour dates and a new album
right around the corner, Roots members will stay with their multitasking
ways. ?uestlove is contributing his percussion skills to the upcoming
Christina Aguilera album, and the other members are developing a variety
show-style television pilot.