Review Summary: If you're heading to a chilled out party on the pier this summer, do yourself a favor and bring along How I Got Over.
The Roots have had an outstanding career. Beginning in 1993 with Organix
, The Roots have expanded upon their eclectic style of hip-hop throughout the years, peaking at 1999's brilliant Things Fall Apart
. 5 albums later after their opus, The Roots are still going strong in 2010 as they were a decade ago with another consistent release in How I Got Over
. One of the best albums of the year so far, How I Got Over
delivers with amazing persistence while being blessed with enchanting guest spots and vocals all the way through.
Whereas Rising Down
was gritty, heavy, and somewhat abrasive, How I Got Over
is totally lucid: sure, The Roots signature intelligent street-life lyrics are still very much in tact, however the music backing it is airy and contradictory. The effect is refreshing and pleasing; this might be the first Roots album where I actually smiled
. In the title track where the catchy-as-f**k chorus comes in, yelling "out on the streets, where I grew up/first thing they teach is not to give a ***
" one would expect heavy beats and a strong punishing message. Instead what we are given is almost a summer day jam; a glossy free-flowing pop song that is executed wonderfully. This is Roots for outdoor listening, exercising, or just hanging out with a couple of friends. There's no scathing criticism on social problems here, no fear of a cheating spouse; just The Roots knowing what they do well and having fun doing it.
As strong as the main band is on How I Got Over
, something must be said about the outstanding guest performances. John Legend is in full form on "The Fire" as is Joanna Newsom's ethereal vocals on "Right On". Both tracks are catchy, memorable, and keep the album going at its luminous pace. Perhaps one of the stranger guest performances appears on "The Day" where vocalist Patty Crash creates one of the best melodies on the album. "When I wake up/I Look into the mirror/I can see a clearer vision/I should start living today/cause today is gonna be the day, is gonna be the day
" she croons so delicately that it's hard to sit still through the duration of her stay. With backing music that sounds half Alice In Wonderland and half hip-hop, "The Day" is honest, beautiful, and one of the best songs on the album.
In the onslaught of good music coming out this year, it will be hard for some to remember How I Got Over
. It's never epic, never astounding by any means. It doesn't provoke as much serious thought as previous Roots albums. However when push comes to shove, this is one of the most consistent albums of the year. It is a very distinct album in The Roots' celebrated discography and an oringial hip-hop gem. If you're heading to a chilled out party on the pier this summer, do yourself a favor and bring along How I Got Over