?uestlove Talks New Roots, Common LPs

Philly collective's long-delayed Phrenology due November 26.

It looks like Justin Timberlake isn't the only artist looking to rekindle a bit of Michael's magic.

The Roots have set a release date for their much-delayed Phrenology that coincides with Jackson's biggest career landmark. Grinning widely, Roots drummer ?uestlove pointed out that their November 26 release date comes close to the 20th anniversary of Thriller.

But that's not all the Roots have planned. The Philadelphia musical collective will be expanding its extended musical family not only on its own album, but by appearing on their pal Common's forthcoming The Electric Circus.

"It's definitely a departure record," ?uestlove said of The Electric Circus, the second disc he's executive produced for the Chicago-born rapper (see "New Common Album Tastes Nothing Like Chocolate, ?uestlove Says"). "This is a year for departure records for everybody. Both the Roots and Common are sort of planting their feet on other territory."

"We're just expanding our vocabulary as far as music's concerned," he explained. "Same message, same hip-hop, same cadence, same flows — just different music. We've been big fans of Stereolab, of N.E.R.D. [and] of a whole bunch of artists that have come out. So [the Common] album is our excuse to work with them. We've got Stereolab on the record — incredible. Pharrell [Williams] and Chad [Hugo] of N.E.R.D. did two cuts. It's a beautiful record. Mary J. Blige is on it."

And as for the Roots' upcoming sixth platter, like The Electric Circus, Phrenology will be loaded with guests, including Talib Kweli, Nelly Furtado and Jill Scott (see "Delayed Roots Album Will Now Bump Skulls in October").

"It's all about just taking people out of their regular environment and putting them in a new soundscape," he said. "And I'm doing stuff I've never done before musically."

While the Roots have been absent from new-release racks for roughly three years, they haven't been out of the public eye. The band backed Jay-Z for his MTV "Unplugged" performance, and four of the Roots' five official members were recently in a PETA ad campaign promoting vegetarianism.

"I didn't do that," ?uestlove pointed out. "You notice there's just four people in that photo. One of them people has an addiction to chicken that I can't give up."

One project ?uestlove did participate in, however, albeit some time ago, was a recording session with former Rage Against the Machine singer Zack de la Rocha, which he said resulted in around nine songs. Though he admitted to rocking them in his car a lot lately, ?uestlove said he has no idea when, or if, they'll ever be released.

The Roots themselves will definitely resurface soon, he assured, in stores and on the road.

"The Roots are a touring unit [and] we're pretty much our own show," ?uestlove said, dismissing the idea of linking up with artists outside of their camp for their next outing. "There's some different ideas. We're definitely going to take Cody Chestnutt on the road with us. Right now we're about championing the underdog. We also have a group, the Jazzyfatnastees, who released their sophomore record on another label we established called Cool Hunter. ... We're gonna do some dates with them.

"It's been 10 years and we've had all these groups just sit on the sidelines of things," he explained. "So I think it's time we dust them off and put 'em on the road."