The Roots - And Then You Shoot Your Cousin

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"And Then You Shoot Your Cousin," finds The Roots in the familiar territory of dark performance art. It's depressingly satisfying, efficient and poignant.

The Roots have been simultaneously dabbling in Hip Hop as performance art and incorporating increased amounts of Indie Rock and stripped down Blues into their sound since 2010’s How I Got Over. Expected guests, such as fellow Soulquarians Common and D’Angelo from the Things Fall Apart days, have somewhat given way to the likes of Patty Crash, Joanna Newsom and Sufjan Stevens. And instead of his boastful microphone pyrotechnics, Black Thought has showcased a toned down delivery in support of first-person narratives and the type of singing first showcased on 1995’s “Silent Treatment.” The change has worked because The Roots are an adept, Grammy-award winning band, and because the strategy has been executed almost flawlessly. But, now, three albums deep in concept territory, one can legitimately question if these albums are outliers or what to expect going forward.

And Then You Shoot Your Cousin plays out like a Hip Hop funeral dirge. It is sparse, melancholy and, at certain points, it may be one of The Roots’ most intentionally sonically dissonant albums since Phrenology. It’s also depressingly good, which makes it a bit of a confusing product in a Hip Hop landscape bifurcated by Golden Era romanticists and the turnt-up set. Here, the crew essentially mock both factions, making good on their description of the album as a satirical look at both Hip Hop and the larger community. From the project’s flippant title, to Thought’s nameless protagonist’s desire to buy some diamond teeth and “stick them niggas…take they cash,” nearly each violent and miserable bar is justified by the same cause: “Nigga, we out here tryin’ to eat.” That rationale is also applied to the greater forces outside of Hip Hop, with the sharpest critique leveled against capitalism.

In terms of production, this may be the most The Roots have consistently sounded like a live band on one of their studio albums in nearly 20 years. Questlove has made no secret of the fact the band samples themselves among other sources. But his snares, cymbal crashes and kicks have a noticeable pop on “The Dark,” and they’re seamlessly blended with sparse keys (“When The People Cheer”) and mopey organs (“Understand”). The art house turns are strategically placed. When executed well, they help advance the respective narratives, but in the case of “Dies Irae,” they just come across as ill timed and jarring. Either way, when Nina Simone opens by bellowing out the theme from Middle of the Night, it’s an indication the album won’t be cheery and upbeat.

This latest installation of The Roots’ concept album may be their most efficiently dour. When Black Thought expertly plays the role of the self-loathing guy at the strip club who stays there long enough to enjoy the hot wings, things reach a new emotional low. Somewhere around the time Dice Raw’s character ingests a cheeseburger and a 40 ounce for breakfast, things get lower. As always, the guests are melded to fit within the ensemble. And one such visitor, Raheem DeVaughn, ends things on an upbeat note with “Tomorrow.” Having logged approximately 20 years in the game and earned a gig as house band on The Tonight Show, The Roots have continued descending up the downward staircase of dark performance art for three consecutive albums. It’s a curious turn, but one that finds them as oddly whimsical and satisfying as ever.


  • Anonymous

    im just not feeling this bullshit n i love the roots i got all there albums

  • Anonymous

    Here's my order: 1. Do You Want More ?!!!?!! 2. Illadelph Halflife 3. Things Fall Apart 4. How I Got Over 5. Undun 6. The Tipping Point 7. Phrenology 8. Game Theory 9. And Then You Shoot Your Cousin 10. Organix 11. Rising Down I know this May differ from a lot of people's orders but this is just my opinion. Rising Down just didn't catch me like the others did. I love 1-10 though.

  • Str8Roots

    Since people be ranking: 1. Illadelph Halflife 2. Things Fall Apart 3. Do You Want More 4. Rising Down 5. Undun 6. Game Theory 7. How I Got Over 8. Phrenology 9. The Tipping Point 10. ...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin 11. Organix What I find amazing is that 8 out of The Roots' albums are easy 8/10s and higher, and 6 are 9/10s and higher. And even their 3 less impressive efforts are at the least 6.5-7/10. How many groups can boast a discography like that?

  • Drake 1 The Soulaquarian

    1.Do You Want More 2.Organix 3.Things Fall Apart 4.Illadelph Halflife 5.Phrenology 6.Tipping Point 7.Rising Down But I think by Tipping Point I was done already...what happened to dope emceeing and blunted jazz joints??? Not feelin their nu style is hella wack and depressing...they make better music for other ppl but not on their albums...same sad shit for the past 5, 6 albums, that's insane

  • micah dancy

    Listening to the Album Now Great job The Roots never disappoint

  • Anonymous

    i think that is a genius title and then you shoot your cousin

  • Mr. Tibbs

    I loved it. This album is what Kanye West wishes Jeezus sounded like. I get it, niggas tired of doing the same shit. This album does maintain The Roots essence and have a different feel to it. I do wish it were longer and some of those scenes shouldn't count as tracks.

    • Anonymous

      Nope, I doubt Kanye was trying to have this sound. Yeezus is exactly what Kanye wanted it to be hating ass

  • Anonymous

    I'm not feeling it, I understand what it is supposed to be but it's not how I like my Roots music. Still love some of the instrumentals & of coarse all of Thoughts verses but the rest is just not my thing. It's still better than most of the dookie this site pushes though.

  • DL Dub

    My man used bifurcated in a sentence. Even as a well read person myself I have no idea what that means. Excellent.

  • Anonymous

    As a self-confessed Roots stan who has been listening to their stuff for more than 10 years, I will provide the definitive list of Roots albums. 1. Illadelph Halflife 2. How I Got Over 3. Things Fall Apart 4. Undun 5. Game Theory 6. Phrenology 7. ...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin 8. The Tipping Point 9. Rising Down 10. Do You Want More?!!!??! 11. Organix

  • Ethan

    People aren't looking at this album as a whole. If you can't appreciate the musical genius of this album just because it isn't necessarily Black Thought-dense then you shouldn't be listening to this. This is for a listener who can appreciate hip-hop outside of its normal restraints and appreciate it for what it ("it" being this album and true hip-hop in general) truly is, art. Right behind PTSD for AOTY for me.

    • asdasd

      The best musicians transcend genres and that's what the Roots are doing. They're hip-hop at their core but they have so many other influences that hip-hop is only a loose categorization of their music. It's much more than that, especially by today's standards for hip-hop.

    • Anonymous

      ^ agree with all that except your examples, they just aren't hiphop anymore, it's something different

    • tigerking79

      People aren't looking at it as a whole because they are listening to it as a Hip Hop album. The Roots have a small hip hop influence in their music, but it's mostly Jazz/Soul/R&B style of music that they make. The Roots diss hip hop culture so much, so people expect them to make a quality hip hop album that you can get behind. Instead as with nearly all Roots albums it's another dose of strictly Jazz/Soul/R&B music, with a very small Hip Hop influence. People need to understand The Roots aren't Hip Hop, they are a music fusion group along the lines of Sublime, No Doubt, Dave Matthews Band.

    • Anonymous

      The lack of Black Thought isn't the only reason people don't like this. The concept is executed much more poorly than Undun, the music doesn't sound good, and the album is very short.

  • Anonymous

    this album is fire fuck y'all faggot ass nerds !!!!!!!!!!!

  • tigerking79

    The Roots are just an R&B group with an MC. They are not hip hop.

    • BlackBond

      Shoot yourself...please

    • Anonymous

      I think you completely missed the point of this album. It was a satire about some of Hip-Hop's stereotypes...not a diss to the culture SMH.

    • tigerking79

      Sorry but I don't listen to 2chainz. You're just The Roots dickrider. Black Thought is a good MC, but The Roots make strictly Soul and R&B music. Questlove has worked with more Soul and R&B artists than any hip hop artist. Questlove barely works with any hip hop artist outside of the roots, unless it's Puff Daddy or Jay-Z. The Roots have been dissing Hip Hop culture ever since they have been out. And they came out during the golden era of Hip Hop, when Hip Hop was still about lyricism. Sorry but The Roots can't be apart of the culture that they hate on so much. I got a series of articles that should be done, How Questlove hated on Hip Hop then proceeded to suck the dick of Jay-Z and Puff Daddy and some of the most commercial acts in Hip Hop. Black Thought should have went solo a long time ago. The Roots are essentially just a bunch of upper middle class kids from Philly, who don't understand Hip Hop culture.

    • bonnie mayfield

      That just does not make any sense

    • Ethan

      FOH. You obviously don't know hip-hop, whatsoever. Go back to Migos or 2chainz or whatever ignorant shit you were bred from.

  • Jeremy

    Highly disappointing! Need more Black Thought. They experimented a little too much on this one and ignored their normal formula for success.

    • Anonymous

      I agree. Too many interludes and not enough Black Thought verses,(not to mention his verses were short as hell) which is one of the primary reasons people listen to The Roots. The concept was watered down as well.

  • jessemp3

    I'm not even gonna cast my rating cause if I do it would be a 1. What are The Roots doing with this project? There's hardly any rhyming on this album and when there is, it's quick and the beats don't sound like hip hop. This sounds like a jazz album wow I've listened to it twice and I'm like wtf were they thinking when they made this album? I love The Roots and I've been listening to them since 96 but I don't know what this album is. Where is the hard core beats with Black Thought going in wow I'm so disappointed but I guess I'll just wait for their next album and hope it'll be better.

    • Maccaveli

      Have you ever heard a jazz album?

    • Anonymous

      You do realize that Jazz is the Grandfather of Hip-Hop, right? To me, Hip-Hop is supposed to sound like poetry over Jazz music with an urban twist. I do agree that it could've had more actual MC'ing on it, but that doesn't make it a bad album. It just wasn't what you were expecting.

  • g.d.stubbs

    bifurcate verb |bfrkt| divide into two branches or forks: [ no obj. ] : just below Cairo the river bifurcates | [ with obj. ] : the trail was bifurcated by a mountain stream.

  • Anonymous

    This album aint shit, people scared to knock the Roots n i dont know Things Fall Apart - Act Won Intro it says....''if you play the shit that they like then the people will come, simple as that''

  • Anonymous

    People scared to give a roots CD a bad rating out of fear of losing their elitest club card or some shit, 2 at best

  • Jeremy

    What album were yall listening too? This album deserves a 2 at best. Yes it's the Roots, but its the most watered down conscience rap album Ive heard in some YEARS. One track (that I have no desire to look up the name for but its somewhere int he middle of the album) was just full of the most annoying combination of noises ever boosted through my ears simultaneously. I had 2 listen through's, I usually do 3 but I just couldnt with this one.

  • Zacheus Maggette III

    Another great album from The Roots !! The only things that kept me from giving it 5 stars are the two annoying interludes (The Devil and Dies Irae). Other than that the music is on point and Black Thought, Dice Raw, and Greg Porn all do their thing lyrically. The coming and the two Raheem DeVaughn tracks are smooth too. My favorite track on the album is "Understand". The guys bring some tight verses over the nice beat with the soulful organ. The piano riffs and the music overall keeps this album on replay mode for me. Good job fellas!!

  • cinavenom

    I love it. I love my boom bap shit but I love the composition of this album. The Roots are never afraid to be different and try new things and that's why they are great. Another great album.

  • Djj

    Black Thought is the most talented EMCEE but I just don't understand what The Roots are doing here. I need a Black Thought solo album with Pete Rock and DJ Premier beats.

    • g.d.stubbs

      U funny. this isn't fantasy football and hip-hop isn't some kind of "on demand" service. folks act like artists in a group don't have chemistry that drives them to the heights they reach. do it yourself. you got "DJ" in your handle, why don't *you* mix what you want to hear?

  • Anonymous

    Black Thought = REAL MC!

  • x

    dope review. this album is fire !

  • TaZzZ

    People gotta realize that there are more members of the Roots than Black Thought (Greg and Dice have become essentially auxiliary members) and as their career goes on, there is less emphasis on dense lyricism and more about setting a thematic mood and allowing the music to do the talking, WHICH I DIG, but I can see why people need time to get used to it. Yes, its short, Yes, there isn't as much of the classic black thought we are used to, but what they give us is still up to the musical quality of what we are used to from them. Thought has stepped back a bit and let the overall scheme of the art takeover as opposed to serving as the centerpiece. It's not like the Tipping Point, Game Theory or some of their more lyric-driven work and I don't see them going that direction, but its still every bit the Roots and thus every bit worth the $$$...

    • KC

      I hear what your saying but its not what roots fans want to hear. Especially for an album this short. Having basically 4 interludes on an 11 track album, not to mention a track that thought was perfect for but not featured on in "tomorrow" Is a bit extreme. This feels more like they were trying to score a film that at this point doesn't exist. Nothing wrong with that of course but its hard for me to even consider this a full album. Also, what is their fascination with greg porn? I mean the dude is just ok but he is pretty much featured on every roots album now. All and all this feels like half of what could have been a really good album

  • Nolin415

    How I got over took some time to grow on me, undun I liked from the jump. I'm not to sure about this one though. Sounds really all over the place. Still has touches of greatness though, I mean it's the roots.

  • YES

    This is the most accurate DX review i've seen in a long time. This album is a 4/5 and their reasoning is spot on. Sometimes the weird avant garde stuff is a force. But it's still a good album, my one big complaint like everyone else is it needs a lot more Black Thought verses.

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  • Chenika

    I was having a bad day,but then i listened to this and my day is wonderful. Great album what i felt, is what music is suppose to do move people.

  • mattayoa

    The album isn't a 4, more like a 3...I like the Roots but this one wasn't that great

  • Kanye West

    As a Roots fan since DYWM?!!!??!, they are consistently some of the best music out PERIOD. Fuck rap. These niggas change the game. Now that being said, this is some of the best music out in the rap game right now - but not the Roots best effort. The lack of Black Thought on the tracks is pronounced and although a solid effort its more like a 4. Not hating but this is pretty marginal coming from the Roots crew. But what is impressive is marginal for them is still 4 mics. Kanye

  • Anonymous

    Album is weak. When the People Cheer and Never were great, the rest is not good at all. This is a HUGE disappointment. I'ma have to give this 1 star.

    • Anonymous

      I support, this album aint shit, people scared to knock the Roots n i dont know Things Fall Apart - Act Won Intro it says....''if you play the shit that they like then the people will come, simple as that''

    • Anonymous

      I did listen. I didn't buy it because it wasn't any good. I did buy Undun, though. There were like 6 Black Thought verses total, half of which weren't good. The album was too short, there was too much singing.

    • Anonymous

      stfu you didn't listen or even buy the album

  • Anonymous

    Techs album was wayyy better but okay lol. I still like this shit alot though! tomorrow and When the people cheer ARE MY SHIT.

  • m

    class - Black Rock, when the people cheer, understand, tomorrow.

  • IHateMorgy

    Really disappointed in this. LOVE the Roots but simply judging this album, it's a poor effort with only 5 tracks from Black Thought :/ maybe after a few dozen listens

  • HibachiKid

    I love it, I can see why people would want black thought to be on more shit though. Besides the lack of Thought I really liked each song.

  • tha OG

    5 stars true hip-hop music

  • Anonymous

    I'm sorry but Black Thought is on 5 tracks on this album, that's about half of the album. As much as I love The Roots, they aren't as great without the primary emcee. The instrumentals on here can't carry this album.

  • chilleymost

    real spit gotta love it ,,,live niggas respect it

  • Anonymous

    This is a very depressing album.

  • paul

    this is album is hot! a motherfucking masterpiece!. The Roots has done it again.

  • 614grind

    I buy all Roots albums blind. I already know it's gonna be quality effort because they have talent and artistic integrity.

  • sincere

    4/5???!!! This album is a masterpiece! Undun showed us emotion and beauty while this one has a more angry and scary feeling to it. I think the music is really fucking great as well as the lyrics. I give this album a 5/5

  • Anonymous

    'Undun' is so much better than this. Listened throughly the last night and can't say I liked this too much. :( Maybe it takes some time to grow in me.