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May 19, 2008 | by  | in Music |
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ALbum Review: The Roots – Rising Down

Marking what will probably be The Roots’ final album with Roc-A-Fella Records, with whom they signed in 2006, the second consecutive record deal to sour on the Philly natives. Rising Down, like its predecessor Game Theory, marks a move from the lighter, jazz-infused hip hop of their early years, to a more dark, despondent sound infused with a bitterly political narrative. The Roots have always been remarkably consistent with their inclusion of politics in their lyrics, which is refreshing. It’s not often that musicians reference Charles Taylor and the Liberian civil war.

The album opens strongly with ‘Rising Down’, featuring Mos Def. The track is appropriately smooth, polished, and in fact, not about global warming.

It’s counterpoint, ‘Rising Up’, on the other hand, seems out of place, and not up to the standard of the rest of the album. Being intentionally disjointed, it contrasts starkly with the flow of album.

However, its follow-up, ‘Birthday Girl’, featuring Patrick Stump from Spongebob Squarepants, was simply a poor choice for the album, as The Roots themselves pointed out during an interview. But Roc-A-Fella disagreed, and the fact it’s on the album at all seems to suggest nothing more than record companies cashing in on Fall Out Boy. Dude, whatever.

Rising Down is musically restrained. It is an easy listen, and will appeal equally to non-fans of hip hop.

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