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GeoReview: The Roots, Rising Down
By Clayton Ruley
 

The Roots come back after the Game Theory with Rising Down, an album with more hints of darkness and reality. Featuring production by The Roots, Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson, Khari Mateen, Ritz Reynolds, Tahir Jamal, Radji Mateen, Richard Nichols and James Poyser, this piece of Hip Hop work is decidedly tilted to the simple makes best adage. Hard beats with descriptive and elaborative flows make this a great work in a world of popcorn beats and rhymes.

This album marks the first since Leonard Hubbard left the group. It will be interested to see how the sound changes, if it does that all.

The album starts with "Intro", a sound of a conversation that happened in the 1990s regarding The Roots and their place in their record label and in Hip Hop. Tensions get high as voices try to defend their position and it fades to black. This is brings you to the first song. Styles P. and Mos Def join Black Thought on the title track "Rising Down" and it sounds like The Roots are coming out of a dark tunnel and trying to explain why they are who they are, what they think and the world they live in.

It's especially good to see long standing veterans like Styles, Mos and Thought get together on this track. Thought said: "Yo I don't wanna floss, I done loss my passion and I don't wanna climb I lost my traction!" Styles P. said: It's hard to claim the land when my great, great, great grands was shipped to it." Powerful stuff! Throwback rappers get heavy on this beat.

The Roots bang out a track that sounds like it comes out of science experiment. "Get Busy" features long time Roots co-hort Dice Raw and Peedi Peedi. I'd play this at a party as the chorus asks the people to get busy!

"@15" is Black Thought freestyling and it's vintage Thought! I mean Thought always seems to flow about his surroundings and can take you someplace you may have never seen. It's a nice prelude to "75 Bars" another track Thought. Featuring excellent guitar and drum play, "Criminal" is another journey through concept rap as Thought, Truck North and Saigon take the baton from the preceding one and talk about being seen as a criminal. I can this track being revisited on a Sunday drive through the neighborhood when things are slower and you can how this world makes fantasy a reality and the opposite.

"I Will Not Apologize" features newcomer Porn and Dice Raw as they talk about not giving people who look down at some people a break. An example I pulled out was not apologizing makes people in disadvantaged situations think of doing. This song reminds me that old quote (I'm paraphrasing): "If you stand for nothing you'll fall for anything!" The track uses a Fela Kuti sound recording and composition to its best!

A host of talent comes to say "I Can't Help It"! Malik B. Mercedes Martinez, Porn; Dice join Thought and do the thing on this track that sounds like a track from that old Nintendo Metroid game…real Sci-Fi like! The end lets ?uestlove get a nice drum solo on as the song goes off and the chorus is repeated. This is music not gimmick and that's what is missing in music these days in my opinion.

"Singing Man " features Dice, Truck North and Porn and Thought coming together and talking about war, youth and loss. The show goes on is the theme despite how it happens.The future is now and "Unwritten" attempts to express that and the fact you only truly know what you are doing now. A short track this goes immediately into "Lost Desire", a track that talks about the reality many urban youth deal with and how that leads to lost hope. Malik B. and Talib Kweli do a nice job and this funky track and the chorus is particularly poignant. Peep the notes Malik B. and Thought drop about their hometown of Philadelphia.

"The Show" comes after a brief interlude and you will appreciate as two of the rap games best lyricists: Common and Thought, join and spit about the music and life game needing to move forward despite the other distractions and life happenings. Dice Raw spits the simple but real chorus and Thought in his last verse talks about what he does on the stage and how he makes an impact.

Washington D.C. newcomer Wale and singing queen Chrisette Michele join The Roots crew on "Rising Up", a track about the radio and finding that soulful music somewhere else. The track definitely has that D.C. sound filled with percussion sounds and the lyrics give you a message but it sounds like they had fun making it too!

Overall another banger from The Roots team because it's life music you can play doing different things and with different people.

The album receives four GeoGlobes.

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