Monday, October 1, 2007

Underated Classic-The Roots Phrenology

A few years ago I was sitting in the back of a Journalism class I was taking in College, mind you I was not a Journalism major. The day after the 2003 Grammy awards my Professor (who looks like Uncle Phil from "Fresh Prince") comes storming into class, throws his briefcase on his desk and screams "WHO THE FUCK IS NORA JONES!" Myself, like the rest of the class didn't know whether to laugh or run out of the room. My Professor proceeded by saying "how does an unknown like her, get ruled out over known boys like The Roots?!" Everyone in class just seemed really perplexed and I just sat there as if I just stepped into the right place. My Professor asked around the class if anyone had herd Phrenology by The Roots? Everyone shook their heads and I raised mine proudly. He and I spent the rest of the class talking about how this is the definitive hip-hop record of that time and completely overlooked. So now, I am taking that conversation to text with this months underrated classic. The Roots have been the most incredible, most vivacious, most unstoppable force in music (in any genre) since 1987. But in 2002 they released what could go down as one of the best records of this decade, one of the best hip-hop albums of all time and certainly one of the best records of that year and their career. Before Kanye West, while Jay-Z was ruling the charts and while 50 was just coming into his own, The Roots were the band that held hip-hop together and garnished nothing but respect from fans, peers and critics alike. Never before had anyone ever herd anything so eclectic, that it made you stop and think "are these guys real?" Phrenology was the record that not only put them to the top of their game, but started to make them a household name as well. "The Seed 2.0" featuring Cody ChestnuTT would be one of the most played singles of that year and song that got the underground sensation to the mainstream. Phrenology combines everything from jazz, neo-soul, reggae, rock, R&B and rap into a full on record of epic proportions. The Roots known for NOT having a DJ, and being an actual band, that play actual instruments are not your conventional hip-hop group. Never afraid to express themselves such as on the raunchy "Pussy Galore" or present social issues to their audience with "Rolling with Heat," a collaboration with Talib Kweli. The Roots became much more than a band, or musical group, on Phrenology they became instant legends. And now I ask you, who the fuck is Nora Jones!, and why didn't these boys win or become a greater success than one could dream.