The Roots' ?uestlove has a lot on his plate, but the top priorities are clear: masterminding the 10th Roots album, Rising Down, and overseeing a yet-untitled Al Green album.
"I know Justin wants to be a part of this project," ?uest said of Justin Timberlake's probable contribution to Green's LP. "Anthony Hamilton did some honorary background vocals. Corinne Bailey Rae wrote two songs. She's a monster songwriter. We also have been talking to Justin's people now. Both he and Al are from Memphis. D'Angelo will be a part of this record as well."
?uest said he's been working on Green's album for three years, but due to their conflicting schedules, only about three months' worth of work has been done.
"It's been putting gray hair in my afro," 'Love laughed. "I'm not producing, I'm reducing it. I'm trying to take him back to 1974 — very dry, very dirty, very grassroots sound. One of the biggest mistakes of modern technology, it doesn't sound gritty, doesn't sound raw. A lot of the favorite records we sample from today, those were recorded in studios that were very lackluster. Those weren't the best studios in the world. Pretty much, I want this album to sound very cheap, very dirty ... the vibe the Amy Winehouse album gave you. More than just the song, the creative aspect. I wanted the engineering to feel like it was made 30 years ago."
The Philadelphia producer said Green's album should be out next spring, around the time the Roots' next project launches on April 29 (see "?uestlove Says New Roots LP Was More Stressful Than Backing Jay-Z, Chappelle").
"We are 55 percent finished," ?uest said. "I will say this is an electric record, more synthy. The darks are darker and the lights are lighter. But all I know is making quality hip-hop stylistically. We tried to do something we never did before. Kamal had to be the sacrificial lamb this time. The one instrument that has defined the Roots has been the Fender Rhodes [electric piano]. This is the first year he's had to change his instrumentation and try other sounds out. We have a bunch of keyboards and synthesizers we're using on this record. It feels like the musical equivalent of 'Blade Runner' sometimes. We've also added a horn section."
This month, the Roots start the VH1 Hip Hop Honors Tour, where they will be playing their own hits as well as backing sets by Big Daddy Kane and MC Lyte.
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