The Roots, the legendary, Grammy Award winning hip hop crew and arguably the hardest working musicians in popular culture, turn 25 this year. The brainchild of childhood friends Ahmir ñ?uestloveî Thompson and Tariq Black Thought Trotter, The Roots began their career playing bucket drums and freestyling on the streets and competing with Boyz II Men for top honors at The Philadelphia High school for Creative and Performing Arts.
Though popular success has largely eluded The Roots, the Philadelphia group showed the way for live rap, building on Stetsasonic’s “hip-hop band” philosophy of the mid ’80s by focusing on live instrumentation at their concerts and in the studio. Though their album works have been inconsistent affairs, more intent on building grooves than pushing songs, The Roots’ live shows are among the best in the business.
Named one of the greatest live acts by Rolling Stone, their career has evolved to include a weekly gig as the house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, hosting sold-out jam sessions across country, collaborating on new works for contemporary performance (Lincoln Center, BAM, Kimmel Center), and consistently churning out Grammy nominated albums.
Their most recent release, undun, the group’s first conceptually-based album and 13th major-label release, has delivered continued critical acclaim from bloggers and fans alike, reaffirming the creativity of the outfit notorious for pushing the envelope.