The Island Def Jam Music Group
The Roots 13th album, release in December 2011, doesn’t disappoint. It is a concept album about the fictional character Redford Stevens, from Sufjan Steven’s song “Redmond,” who lives his short life in urban poverty. The album expands on the sound of its 2010 release How I Got Over by utilizing the same snare-driven beats, keyboard, strings and indie influence.
The album has something to offer everyone, whether you listen to it introspectively and catch the tragedy of narrative or just listen casually. Their lyrics have a seriousness to it that makes this album even more appealing. The Roots draw on the world of commercial rap but they understand and address the more far reaching associations on Undun. Instrumental pieces frame the album and the album follows a clear pattern and story.
The Root’s sound seems more muted and somber, such as in “Sleep” and “I Remember”, with some few tracks with more punch to them, such as “Kool On” and “The Otherside”.
Guest spots are also very prevalent in this album. “Make My”, the album’s lead single, “Lighthouse” and “Stomp” are just a few that feature guest singers. There is not one song on the album that is unnecessary. Each is vital and adds to the overall mood and tone.
Undun shows that the Roots are still at the top of their game and are continuing to push boundaries and forge ahead. This is one of their most ambitious and adventurous projects and their flawless execution shows they have succeeded.
Give these tracks a listen: “Make My”, “Lighthouse”, “I Remember”, “The Otherside”
For fans of: Common, Mos Def, Talib Kweli and John Legend