The Roots – Rising Down

May 3, 2008

Rising Down, the new album from Philadelphia based band the Roots, takes its name from William T. Vollmann’s seven volume treatise on violence, Rising Up And Rising Down. (There’s a one volume distillation available, edited by Vollmann himself, for those interested.) The album is a musically stripped down, frequently searing and confrontational look at violence in American society at multiple levels, cultural, political, environmental and societal. It’s hip hop as deliberate political provocation, and it’s one of the best albums I’ve heard from an already legendary American band. What makes Rising Down compelling and often thrilling to listen to is the band’s usual virtuoso musicianship, along with intelligent, witty rhymes. It starts to run out of gas towards the end, ending with one of the album’s weaker tracks, “Rising Up” (the spoken word track that directly follows makes up for it, however), but in general, this is pretty solid, essential stuff. Standout cuts: “Get Busy,” “75 Bars,” “Criminal” and “I Can’t Help It.”

http://www.myspace.com/theroots

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