The legendary Roots crew held a private listening session yesterday evening (May 20th) in New York City’s Legacy Studios for their ninth full-length (11th including EPs) album titled How I Got Over. Among those in attendance were the Roots crew themselves, along with various collaborators on the project (including newcomer Sugar Tongue Slim), as well as Late Night With Jimmy Fallon‘s own, Jimmy Fallon. The album, nine songs deep with three interludes and two bonus cuts, is a culmination of almost every Roots project, primarily Phrenology.
The 2002 LP (Phrenology) was released at a time when Hip Hop was less accustomed to the risk-taking that the Roots introduced with that project and therefore met mixed reviews. With the gradual shift in Hip Hop, How I Got Over is poised to be welcomed more by Roots fans and music lovers alike, as it combines elements of Soul, Funk, Jazz, Rock, and even laced with some Jungle beats. The dark melodic lead single “Dear God 2.0” is an interpolation of supergroup Monsters of Folk’s “Dear God” and strays from what’s expected from the Hip Hop band.
The album’s title track leaked a while back, with dark tribal drums and both Black Thought and Dice Raw trading verses. Other songs include the Phonte and Dice Raw assisted “Now Or Never”, where the hook states, “Gotta get my shit together, it’s now or never.” How I Got Over sounds like what may soon be referred to as “Contemporary Hip Hop” in its grown approach to an otherwise youthful art form, taking sizeable risks that still play out perfectly. The instrumentation of the Roots allow this album to sound like its almost live, with production altered to sound as though guest appearances on the hook are sampled (especially John Legend on “Doin It Again”).
The two bonus tracks are the closest to traditional “Rap” as the first is a cypher-esque cut set to the beat of deejay scratches and the second holds Sugar Tongue Slim on the hook as he repeats the word “Hustler” and declares, “I hope my baby boy grows up to be a hustler.” The album barely clocks in at an hour, but is packed with enough experimentally brilliant gems to keep the Roots’ momentum going for a good long while.
How I Got Over is slated for a June 22nd release on Def Jam.