Music » CD Reviews

The Roots

Rising Down (Island/Def Jam)

by

comment
2138628.t.jpg

Rising Down is an appropriate title for the Roots' eighth album. Coming off Game Theory, 2006's miracle of soundscaping, Rising Down sounds like the Philadelphia hip-hop crew's weakest record. There are some genuine beats here, but keepers like the spare, slamming posse cut "Get Busy" and the old-school freestyle spit by then-15-year-old Black Thought eventually give way to a back half-stuffed with too many guest rhymers, trippy guitar jams, and curiously indistinct songs.

It doesn't help that the Roots are touting Rising Down as both their tough-guy and smart-guy moves. Digging deep for radical political insight, all they can muster is the usual bemoaning about being treated like criminals. Still, Black Thought's flow remains razor-sharp, even when he's slicing through the superficial rhymes. And the bass hooks bob and weave in highlights like the Fela Kuti tribute and "75 Bars (Black's Reconstruction)," a nonstop freestyle featuring the excellently named Tuba Gooding Jr.

Add a comment