The Roots' long hip-hop career is rivaled by only a few acts. With the release of their 11th studio album, How I Got Over, however, the Philly collective shows it can still push boundaries, exploring some fairly un-hip-hop themes.
"The whole premise of How I Got Over is basically ... a coming-of-age record," ?uestlove told MTV News last week of their latest effort, which came out Tuesday (June 22).
The Roots drummer added that the band wanted to switch things up and touch on some thought-provoking themes, a practice he said is more typical of rock than hip-hop. "There hasn't been a real precedent of anyone being at the crossroads [in hip-hop]. I hear [it] a lot in rock records ... where it's sort of like, 'I'm at a point in my life where I don't know what to do and things are happening around me.' "
The Grammy-winning group known for keeping a tireless touring schedule has more recently eased up on the concert dates, putting down roots as the house band for NBC's "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon." The band has no doubt arrived at an enviable level of success for an act that dropped its first effort back in '93. Still, ?uest explained that the group wanted to get candid on How I Got Over about the issues confronting them at this stage in the game.
"You really don't hear any hip-hoppers talking about some sort of ... existential existence of God or even dare use the word 'midlife crisis' in any of their verses. So we wanted to make a completely honest record."
But How I Got Over isn't all existential musings, ?uestlove insisted. The drummer points to tracks like the upbeat "The Fire," which features soul singer John Legend, who also happens to be working on a collaborative album with the legendary Roots crew.
"As far as 'The Fire' is concerned, we wanted to balance the record out also, with a sign of hope, a ray of hope," ?uest said. " 'The Fire' is ... almost an anthem, if you will. It's like a hang-on-in-there, if you will, for us."
Are you glad to hear the Roots will touch on some more complex subjects on their next album? Tell us in the comments!