Album: Phrenology

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Album:

Phrenology

Artist: The Roots
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Label: Mca

If you were wondering what the heck phrenology means, the Roots wouldn’t have it any other way. Hip-hop’s hardest-working live band continues where they left off with Things Fall Apart, forcing listeners to think outside of the Hot 97 FM box—or just plain think. On “Thought at Work,” lead emcee Black Thought—the most criminally underrated wordsmith of his time—weaves captivating flows over a neck-snapping break beat, while on “Water” he boldly addresses the controversy surrounding his partner-in-rhyme Malik B’s alleged substance abuse. While…

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If you were wondering what the heck phrenology means, the Roots wouldn’t have it any other way. Hip-hop’s hardest-working live band continues where they left off with Things Fall Apart, forcing listeners to think outside of the Hot 97 FM box—or just plain think. On “Thought at Work,” lead emcee Black Thought—the most criminally underrated wordsmith of his time—weaves captivating flows over a neck-snapping break beat, while on “Water” he boldly addresses the controversy surrounding his partner-in-rhyme Malik B’s alleged substance abuse. While collaborations with Nelly Furtado (“Sacrifice”) and Talib Kweli (“Rhymes and Ammo”) read much better on paper than they sound, the catchy, up-tempo call-and-response routine utilized by the crew on the latter song will amp up Roots nonbelievers. As a bonus, Jill Scott’s dreamy falsetto refrain hammers home some finer points about love on “Complexity.” —Dalton Higgins

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