You would think that after winning a Grammy, backing Jay-Z on his MTV Unplugged venture, and appearing in a Coca-Cola commercial, the Roots would be ready to floss and reap the benefits of mainstream acceptance. But after one listen to the sixth album from Philadelphia's pioneering, decade-old rap band, it's clear that the six-man collective has no intention of selling out. In fact, they've become even more experimental. Loaded with cameos from an eclectic mix of artists including Talib Kweli, Nelly Furtado, and poet Amiri Baraka, Phrenology is by far the Roots' most challenging album to date. With the addition of guitarist Ben Kenney, rapper Black Thought, drummer ?uestlove, the fellas prove, as do their colleagues Mos Def and Saul Williams, that live hip-hop can rock the house -- most notably on tracks such as the punk-flavored "!!!!!!!" and "The Seed (2.0)," featuring Terence Trent D'Arbyreminiscent newcomer Cody Chesnutt. The Roots once again get mellow on the neo-soul tip in the vein of their Grammy Awardwinning song "You Got Me" with Erykah Badu; "Break You Off," features Philly neighbor Musiq; "Quills" samples Swing Out Sister with vocals from Tracey Moore of the Jazzyfatnastees; and the jazzy "Complexity," spotlights Jill Scott. The guys really get to flex their creativity, however, on the ten-minute "Water," where avant-garde guitar god James "Blood" Ulmer leads the Roots into the psychedelic underworld of free jazz. And it's that kind of progressive musical vision that keeps the Roots essential to today's hip-hop.
Performance CreditsRoots Primary Artist
James Blood Ulmer Guitar
Jef Lee Johnson Guitar
James Poyser Strings,Moog Synthesizer
Black Thought Vocals
Talib Kweli Vocals
Jill Scott Vocals
Nelly Furtado Background Vocals
Tracey Moore Background Music
Kamiah "Little Klang" Gray Keyboards,Klangspiel
Omar Edwards ARP
Sarah Chun Cello
Michelle Golder Cello
Hope Wilson screams
Technical CreditsJeff Chestek Engineer
Jon Smeltz Engineer
DJ Scratch Producer
Richard Nichols Executive Producer
Ursula Rucker Contributor
Malik B. Contributor
Karriem Riggins Producer
Tariq Trotter Composer
Leonard Hubbard Composer
Mos Def Contributor
Steve Mandel Engineer
Jim Bottari Engineer
Carlos "Storm" Martinez Engineer
Musiq (Soulchild) Composer
Alicia Keys Contributor
Cody ChesnuTT Composer,Producer
Kamiah "Little Klang" Gray Producer
Robert "LB" Dorsey Engineer
Tom "Evil Prints" Huck Illustrations
Kareem Da Bawl Producer
Omar the Scholar Producer
Kelo Saunders Producer
Ahmir Thompson Composer
Scott Storch Composer,Producer
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Phrenology based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
The best Roots album by far. The closest sounding to their live shows. It is obvious they have become true masters of their sound. Black Thought's lyrics surpass the last album's; and very close to his work on Illadelph Halflife. However he is much more versatile than he has every been with his delivery. This is also the most explicit the Roots have ever been with much metaphorical sexual content; the most profanity the group has ever used, which is the album's only downside. This album is the best rap album in two years.
The Roots sound is amazing.They mix so many styles together and the end result is breathtaking. Their wild style and off the wall lyrics add kick to the album. ?uestlove and his drumming is original. If you want to listen to a new sound and want to take a chance, then my friend I suggest you buy this cd.
Phrenology is the latest in line of well-thought out albums by the Roots that continue to impress. Continually they are the perennial group to produce the hottest beats with the illest baselines. This in one more album that no one should hesitate to add to their collection.
The world deserves a cd like this every so often-one of those cd's that rattle your thoughts and stir up that flame of yours that you almost forgot about. The Roots have finally come into their own. Having undergone a journey that we have witnessed throughout, they have reached there destination, for now at least. "Phrenology" truly shows their musical genius, and it is a cd not to passed by.