Titled “Misunderstood,” the track was premiered by Funk Flex on Hot 97 on Thursday night (October 27), one week after the veteran DJ challenged the Philadelphia group to end their musical drought.
“I challenged The Roots last week, and they delivered big time,” Flex declared on-air while building excitement for the song, which was produced by Jorun Bombay and Questlove. “The knock on this is crazy … This is so mean.”
Questlove posted a video of Flex premiering “Misunderstood” on Instagram while saying: “I’ve been waiting for this for 31 years. Since ’92, I’ve been waiting for this … I mean, yeah, they played ‘You Got Me,’ but we’ve never been on Hot 97 like this.”
He added: “I ain’t trying to be dramatic, man, but this has been a year of bucket lists, but no doubt, I made a song that Hot 97 and Funkmaster Flex dropped some bombs on. This is my Christmas gift.”
In his Instagram caption, the Oscar-winning drummer/director gave fans renewed hope for The Roots’ long-awaited End Game LP, writing: “I promise we will rap up #ENDgame (our 17th lp) PRONTO!”
“Misunderstood” has yet to be officially released on streaming service, but Flex’s premiere can be heard below:
End Game has been in the works for at least half a decade, with Questlove telling HipHopDX in 2017 that The Roots had recorded a staggering 263 songs for the album — but only 14 will make the cut.
“The difference between this record and [the ones] that came before it was our longtime collaborator [Richard Nichols], who’s our manager and producer, is no longer with us,” he said. “He’s always been the centerpiece, the referee, between all the guys. So, this will be the first time we had to grow up and resolve our own arguments.
“Usually when we get to 100 songs, he’s like, ‘Guys. You have 100 songs,” Quest explained. “There’s 14 really good songs in these 100. Let’s stop and concentrate on the 14.’ Right now, we’re at 263. But ideas keep coming. I made the promise that by November 1, we are stopping. And we’re just going to pick a good 14. And I’m certain by then, it’ll be 400 songs.”
More recently, Quest revealed to DX in August that End Game is still just over halfway finished, but already he believes it’s up there with the group’s best work.
“We’ve been working on this album for six years, so I’ll say that we’re 60 percent done,” he said. “And the fact that it still sounds good, even after six years of starting and stopping, that’s how timeless it is, and it’s a return to form.”
Black Thought also gave DX an update on the album this past summer, saying: “We got enough songs, and I feel like it’s cohesive. It’s not like a, ‘We’re about to start,’ so it boils down to just that refinement, which songs are actually completed.”
End Game will serve as the follow-up to The Roots’ 11th studio album …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin, which arrived in May 2014 via Def Jam.
Since then, the Philly crew has released a handful of new material including “Feel It (You Got It)” and “It Ain’t Fair” with fellow Soulquarian Bilal, as well as anniversary reissues of classic albums like Things Fall Apart and Do You Want More?!!!??!
Outside of the Roots umbrella is where Questlove and Black Thought have truly shone since their last album, though. Quest has won an array of awards — including his first Oscar — for his 2021 documentary Summer of Soul, paving the way for future films about J Dilla, James Brown and Sly Stone.
Thought, meanwhile, has released a series of solo projects — including his Streams of Thought trilogy and long-awaited Cheat Codes album with Danger Mouse — in addition to starring in and composing the music for his first off-Broadway musical, Black No More.