The Roots Undun Review (The Only One That Matters)

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For the past week we’ve seen a bunch of people tackle this album. Writers these days take themselves way too seriously. That or they have these agendas in writing these reviews just to grab a few hits and if they’re lucky maybe a couple of RTs. I’m not a writer. I’m a simple man, I like my beans and rice. We live in a world that is quite simple if you ask me. It’s black, it’s white. It’s good, it’s bad. It’s hot, it’s cold. It’s yes or no. These definitive answers shape who we are.


There is no need to string together a wordy review that only serves as self-indulgent drivel just to deliver one adjective in describing Undun.


We’ve been spoiled for practically two decades now with progression, not regression from The Roots crew. We want Malik B. We miss Len Hub. We want more N.T. collabos. We want more Black Thought verses. We want lengthier tracks and albums; [insert Elaine] yada yada yada.


This album is best listened to front to back and then back to front. It’s not an album, it’s a soundtrack of life. It doesn’t matter if you’re connected to Redford Stephens or not. It’s bigger than him. It wouldn’t matter if was Tony Wycek. It’s almost as if the album is bigger than the music itself.


This is something that could possibly be turned into an off-Broadway musical. For the past few albums I’ve never given The Roots a fair shot off the first listen and trust me, I’ve sipped the juice plenty of times. They set the bar pretty high on Game Theory, the album, many will agree, where Black Thought separated himself from a great lyricist to top 25 of all-time.


But The Roots have always been about taking chances. Thirteen fucking albums now. How many hip-hop groups can you say have had the longevity that The Roots have had? Not Wu, Tribe, De La, Public Enemy, Outkast, Freestyle Fellowship, Geto Boys, Ultramag, Mobb Deep or Gang Starr. None of them ever had the longevity and consistency that of The Roots. That’s not me saying The Roots are the best ever, that’s me daring you to come up with one group in hip-hop who has even remotely put together thirteen quality albums time and time again.


For me to point out the great cuts on here is foolish. You aren’t supposed to pick and choose. You wouldn’t skip to the Winston Wolf scene in Pulp Fiction when watching–would you?


So, do yourself a favor, listen to the album the way it’s supposed to be heard–in its entirety. You’d be doing yourself a huge disservice by skipping around. And while I’m not claiming this is their best work, it is their most fascinating work to date. I know so many of you will be quick to say, “but there are only 9 real tracks,” but if you listen to the entire album, its 14 chapters. By the way, Illmatic only had 9 “real” tracks too.


So get past yourself and the way you want their albums to sound these days. I promise you it may not hit you right away, but with each listen the album will continue to impress and leave you wanting more.


These boys hit their stride awhile back, now they’re just playing with house money and parlaying it into more wins.


And that one adjective you’re waiting for; great. The album is fucking great?!!!??! –Philaflava





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