Music » Livewire

The Roots

With 311. Monday, July 19, at Tower City Amphitheater.

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More than just a band, the Roots have consistently lived up to their name during a decade-long career, spreading their tendrils throughout the hip-hop community to link seemingly disparate artists. Before Kanye West became the most celebrated bridge between the music's over- and underground, these Philadelphians, led by drummer Amir "?uestlove" Thompson, went from alt-rap pioneers to being Jay-Z's backing group without losing an ounce of cred. Closer to home, the Roots were instrumental in linking various Philly artists under the "Soulquarians" banner in the mid-'90s, and their Okayplayer.com website has become home for many like-minded performers.

Their previous album, 2002's Phrenology, bravely shoved hip-hop into an uncertain future full of Hendrix-style licks and drum & bass rhythms; their latest, The Tipping Point, is a return to roots, so to speak, channeling the spirit of Big Daddy Kane into songs that celebrate the unadulterated glory of beats and Black Thought's rhymes. Always a concert powerhouse, the band is touring this summer with rap-rock-raga veterans 311, whose live sets supporting their new greatest-hits album have included covers of work by punky reggae forefathers like Bad Brains and The Clash, as well as a blunt-edged version of the Cure's 1989 hit "Love Song."

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