The Roots and John Legend will revive a host of soulful songs on their upcoming collection of covers, Wake Up!, which is due in stores in September.
The track list — which was revealed by Rap-Up.com on Monday (July 12) — includes 11 songs, and Chicago MC Common and Grammy-nominated songstress Melanie Fiona make appearances on the album. Wake Up! revisits songs such as “Little Ghetto Boy” by Donny Hathaway, “Wholy Holy” by Marvin Gaye and “Hard Times” by Baby Huey and the Babysitters.
Although the album is a collection of vintage tracks, Legend said the timeless lyricism has a contemporary appeal. “These songs sound so relevant now,” Legend said in a statement. “On most of them, you wouldn’t change a lyric. ’Wake Up Everybody’ (the album’s first single, featuring contributions from Melanie Fiona and Common) has four verses — the first one is a general statement, the second is about education, third is about health care, and the fourth is about making a better environment. No editing needed.”
Roots drummer ?uestlove and Legend also recently spoke to MTV News about their cover of Ernie Hines’ “Our Generation” and its connection to a classic hip-hop track. ” ’Straighten It Out’ [by] Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth was an important hip-hop record and it sampled ’Our Generation,’ ” Legend said. On Wake Up!, Legend said he and the Philly collective strived to spotlight songs that could be incorporated into a hip-hop record. “A lot of what we did was try to bring songs that have been sampled or should be sampled or sample-able to make the album,” he said.
Legend also said that another upside of working on the album with the group he has been following since college is having access to ?uest’s extensive musical knowledge. “He just knows a lot of great records,” Legend said. “When you’re thinking about putting an album together of songs that were performed [more than] 40 to 50 years ago, he’s one of the best people to talk about that with.”
The Roots and John Legend’s “Wake Up!” track list, according to Rap-Up.com:
1. “Compared to What”
2. “Hard Times”
3. “Little Ghetto Boy”
4. “Wake Up Everybody” (featuring Common and Melanie Fiona)
5. “Our Generation”
6. “Love the Way It Should Be”
7. “Hang On in There”
8. “I Can’t Write Left Handed”
9. “Wholy Holy”
10. “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free”
Are you looking forward to Legend and the Roots’ joint album? Let us know in the comments!