The Roots
Things Fall Apart


4.5
superb

Review

by Justin Taslak USER (30 Reviews)
October 28th, 2008 | 71 replies | 27,888 views


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Areegato, to all my people in Japan, whether you rockin Cartier or Pierre Cardan, I'm barging in like excuse, I beg your pardon, to crush carbon copy MC's wit clone jargon

2 of 2 thought this review was well written

If one is at all familiar with alternative hip-hop, it is a sure bet that he or she has heard of The Roots, if not heard a decent amount of their material. They are simply one of the most important bands in the genre, and have been exceptionally consistent throughout their career save for one album (The Tipping Point), which was for the most part forgiven due to the excellence of its successor (Game Theory). Their eclectic range of influences and styles are a large part of what keeps them interesting and original, and speaks for the popular opinion of them being one of the genre’s pioneers as well. I am always baffled when I recollect the fact that they have been around since 1987, nearly half a dozen years before my own inception, but I digress. Things Fall Apart was the group’s senior effort, released a year after the now classic collaborative effort, Black Star. Stacked up against such a fine album, The Roots did not disappoint, releasing possibly the finest album of their careers.

Things Fall Apart truly does contain a plethora of hip-hop elements that mold it this way and that throughout its duration. The Next Movement is the epitome of a popular song of the genre, containing excellent production from Jazzy Jeff (only featured on this track), a female vocal sample, and eloquent lyrics attempting to coax listeners towards enjoying their rhymes over the preferred gangsta style. Preferred in a popular sense; many would still rather listen to expressive poetry over sadistic rants any day of the week. The following tracks surprisingly feature a strong gangsta rap sound though, not so much in the lyrics but very evident in the overall tone. They pertain to rap battles and the like, but are done without the load of violence. The group goes on to incorporate a heavy dose of funk into the overall feel of the album, and then throw in the essential late-90’s/early 2000’s addition of Mos Def to at least one track (Double Trouble). It is the complete package, seeming to cover enough ground to keep fans of rap in general content.

The moody, atmospheric beats are always top notch, though not always fit for frequent radio play. The Roots include their own house band, lead by fan favorite ?uestlove, who provides a solid rhythmic section that doesn’t need to be intricate in any way to be enjoyable. That statement really sums up the entire album; it isn’t anything over the top, and as dark and gloomy as it often gets, it is as infectious an album as any of its sort.

Up until the finale of the album, it as a collected work is nothing implausible. The subject matter, while presented smoothly and skillfully, is nothing profound, again primarily dealing with rap battles and boasts, etc. The beats are good time and time again, but rarely spectacular. When Return to Innocence Lost kicked in, my entire position on the album changed drastically. Delivered by Ursula Rucker, the five-minute long, alarming account of an abusive father is easily one of the more powerful “songs” I have ever heard. The vulgarity used to depict the tragic tale is only the half of it, as the monotonous spoken words aren’t boring but impacting, because they illustrate the unbelievable horrors that would otherwise be ridiculously hard to describe. It is probably the only way to express the poem, seeing as any singing would render it nauseatingly pretentious. Ending on a lighter note, the hidden track is one of the more accessible straight-up rap songs on the album, although it does not stray from the depressing disposition of its predecessor.

The only significant flaw (if one can even call it that) in Things Fall Apart is its 71-minute runtime. It is a massive collection of songs that will occasionally run dry when trying to down the entire disc in one sitting, but it would be well-suited for a nice long drive during an uneventful hour or after some rather unfortunate event had befallen the listener. It flawlessly merges a multitude of moods and styles, creating a superficially diverse album that, while not quite as varied underneath all the time, still manages to wow with witty and well-articulated rhymes. It is a magnificent achievement for the genre that I can see myself turning back to for quite some time.

4.5/5



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user ratings (560)
Chart.
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Comments:Add a Comment 
bustyagunz
October 28th 2008



911 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

ugh, this got all pretentious and **** with the wanky alliteration and such at the end, but i was in disbelief when i saw this was review-less n thought id throw one up
awesome album

Edit: oh yea i forgot to mention how deep the cover is, amazing as well.This Message Edited On 10.28.08

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
October 28th 2008



17920 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

alternative hip-hop

bustyagunz
October 28th 2008



911 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

chan i wish you loved me =(
but yea this was piss poor and im just too tired to function so im gonna go sleep

kingsoby1
Emeritus
October 28th 2008



4938 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I'm surprised this didn't have a review... one of my favorite albums of all time. I'm glad you gave it at least a 4.5

Bleak123
October 28th 2008



1902 Comments


The Roots are pretty much amazing.

SnackaryBinx
October 28th 2008



2309 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this didn't have a review? insanity.

bustyagunz
October 28th 2008



911 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yea, and there are a couple more Roots albums without reviews..... someone else can do those
outside of the last track this hasn't hit me as anything classic yet, although as a whole it is definitely a superb record, albeit a tad too long

kingsoby1
Emeritus
October 28th 2008



4938 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

holy crap, i didn't realize do you want more and illadelph halflife dont have reviews either... most fans consider those two and this to be their best. i never would have written a review for this... i dont think anything i have to say would be taken seriously since im so biased towards my "classic" rated albums.

MassiveAttack
October 30th 2008



2688 Comments


bustyagunz you are crackin' reviews like crazy I don't have the energy and time to crack 'em like you work + school all day

bustyagunz
October 30th 2008



911 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

nah fool ive been lazy for a month, haha

beans
October 30th 2008



2332 Comments


this is a great album but it pales in comparison to Do You Want More?!!!??!
classic album there

kingsoby1
Emeritus
October 31st 2008



4938 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

i agree Do You Want More is classic. but this is classicer.

SpinLightTwo
December 17th 2008



1023 Comments


I listened to this today and it was pretty enjoyable.

FistfulOfSteel
March 19th 2009



894 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

album is so good. every track is pretty much gold, minus the last one, kind of a waste

Iai
Emeritus
March 19th 2009



3553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

holy crap, i didn't realize do you want more and illadelph halflife dont have reviews either... most fans consider those two and this to be their best. i never would have written a review for this... i dont think anything i have to say would be taken seriously since im so biased towards my "classic" rated albums.

Really? I basically think they've got better over time. I've never heard anybody named Do You Want More as their best either.
album is so good. every track is pretty much gold, minus the last one, kind of a waste

Please tell me you mean the really short nothing track and not "Return to Innocence Lost" when you say this.

ZenIsNotChosen
September 12th 2009



94 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Without A Doubt

shade
January 16th 2010



1198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this is the first rap album I've ever really liked.

Roach
January 16th 2010



2149 Comments


lol

Psilocyanide
April 15th 2010



1823 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Step into the Realm= Great

Yazz_Flute
May 1st 2010



18764 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album's got sick beatz y0

The Return To Innocence Lost is difficult to listen to though...but in a good way.

Digging: Cormorant - Dwellings



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