Review Summary: Make no mistake, this is as street hip-hop gets; and there's only one motto: all that fake sh*t's got to go.
The Roots make for an excellent litmus test for whether someone truly understands hip-hop. Reason is, due to their reputation as the legendary Roots crew and despite being on late night television, people are just now starting to respect them. This implies, however, that the Roots will always be respected by the underground and so that's why showing them love is a great way for more ignorant hip hop fans to get cred. What's funny is that similar to Outkast, The Roots were already the best by the time they became famous (Outkast's best work came out before Stankonia) and the Roots had already killed it half a decade before Jimmy Fallon as one of the greatest rap groups of all time. In 1996, already a supreme year in terms of hip hop contributions, the Roots dropped their rawest, purest classic, which continued to evolve and expand with their next album. Make no mistake, this is as street hip-hop gets; and there's only one motto: all that fake sh*t's got to go.
For this album we are taken through different emotions and storylines, guided by the slickest rapper of all time, Black Thought, and his competent side kick Malik B, who never fails to sustain the hype and always shouted out his rap partner-similar in many ways to Phife Dawg, but a bit more sharp on the mic. Songs like Respond/React, Section, and Concerto of the Desperado are some of the razor-sharp lyrical journeys that will leave you with your arms in the air, rapping along to the Roots killing emcees. It Just Don't Stop is one of the more hardhitting reality raps on the joint. Clones seems like a direct shoutout to the New York gritty rap style of the time, Philly-style. The second half is just as good as the first, but you might be a little exhausted from being spun around in every direction by Black Thought's dense yet accessible lyrics.
The production is the best part. The Roots are commonly compared with Jazz Rap, but this is their most hip hop sounding album...that still is being played with a Jazz Rap band. Do You Want More"!"! was definitely more upbeat and had more interesting jazz elements. Make no mistake, this is TOP-NOTCH 90's atmospheric boom-bap filled with cool J Dilla sounding beats (Panic!!!) and several other production and lyrical gems that make relistening a must. Please get on this if you haven't.