Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Roots: How I Got Over

I know it isn't new or anything like that but I've been listening to The Roots' excellent 2010 album, How I Got Over A LOT recently so I decided to put up a review for it. We'll file this in the classics review section for Crocs In The Amazon. It was the 9th studio album for The Roots and is my personal favorite album for the group out of Philadelphia. For those who are wondering, How I Got Over is #1 followed by Illadelph Halflife then Things Fall Apart. Anyways, on to the album...

1) A Piece Of Light- Just a little intro to set the mood. I usually just skip it but not taking anything away from it.

2) Walk Alone feat. Truck North, P.O.R.N., and Dice Raw- The theme of the album is people who start off in unfavorable situations growing up and achieving something with their lives. This track signifies the attitude that many who live that life and need to "get over" have. They feel like they are alone, no one quite understands them. This can either break the person or make them stronger. And "walking alone" does not have to be taken as a literal term for someone not having a support system.  It could also signify that people in the ghetto who do not get that support system from the government to achieve something with their lives. They have terrible public school systems, not the finest grocery stores leading to unhealthy lives, etc. Those people are alone in their endeavor for a better life.

3) Dear God 2.0 feat. Monsters of Folk- This is Black Thought speaking to God and praying for something better. It is as if God doesn't know what is going on because he is letting God know of all the problems going on in his personal life. Black Thought is living a stressed life because of work and bills, bills and work. Black Thought still has faith in God but he just wants answers as to why things are the way they are. All the natural disasters, recession, and job cuts seem to only effect the poor. Black Thought is venting to God in hope that he hears his cries for help.

4) Radio Daze feat. Blu, PORN, and Dice Raw- One of my favorite rappers, Blu, makes his first appearance on the album and does not disappoint. He said he had more tracks recorded for the album but this is one of the two that made the cut. Blu sets the tone for the track where he details how hard it is for an underground rapper like himself to get some love and shine. He knows he is doper than everyone on the radio but because he refuses to change his style up, he realizes he will always be looked over. At the same time, it isn't like he resents anyone on the radio. PORN continues Blu's theme of the radio putting a "daze" on listeners. Because of the "petty perceptions" and "window dressing for misdirection," up and coming rappers think this is the only way to make it in hip-hop. In a way, this helps those who do make it "get over" but at the same time it fails so many more who try to go the same route and fail because they spend so much time trying to eat from these rappers when all they are feeding us is empty calories.

5) Now Or Never feat. Phonte and Dice Raw- Real good motivational song. Dice Raw's hook is simple. You have to adapt in order to succeed. You must change with the times in order to progress in life. Life won't wait for you to make that jump though. It's either you do it now or you miss the boat. Another great feature this time delivered by another one of my favorite artists, my man Tigallo aka Phonte. He looks back on his past and admits his mistakes but he isn't using that as an excuse to not progress. He using those mistakes as teaching lessons because knows he can't be doing the same shit if he wants to make it in life and get over. 

6) How I Got Over feat. Dice Raw- The title track's hook quickly gets to the point. That whole "don't give a fuck" attitude is one of the dumbest things ever. You will quickly make yourself look like a fool if you live by that motto. This is the first track on the album that Black Thought is just spitting bars by himself and it is beautiful. I don't even know how many times I replayed that second verse. Black Thought isn't taking bullshit from people talking down on him or his people. He's letting them know that he has their back and wants to be the voice for them. Black Thought is the voice of reason in a culture where reason is seemingly thrown out the window.

7) Dillatude- Classy tribute to J DIlla.

8) The Day feat. Blu, Phonte, and Patty Crash- Another positive song and this time about having eternal hope. Everyday is a new day and will only be terrible if you let it. You have to wake up in the morning with a positive mind state. If not, there is no way short of winning the lotto that the day is going to be good. You gotta be like Soulja Boi every morning and turn that swag on. Solid verses all around from Blu, Black Thought, and Phonte. No quotables but that's okay because that was just a good song overall.

9) Right On feat Joanna Newsom and STS- Not feeling this track too much. The first track on the album that hit the skip button. I feel like they could have cut this one out. Or just made it an instrumental because the beat was dope.

10) Doin' It Again- Black Thought goddamn. "Unsung, underrated, underappreciated, the one the underachievers had underestimated." That's his career in a nutshell. I'm confused because I like the features that The Roots do on all their projects but when they let Black Thought loose, he goes off. So I don't know which I like more. Like Right On should have just been Black Thought spitting some raw shit.

11) Fire feat. John Legend- Once again, Black Thought is killing these solo tracks. It's some more positive, motivational bars. I don't know if the radio doesn't want to play The Roots or if The Roots don't want to be played on the radio but there is no reason this should not be on the radio. John Legend is on the damn track for god's sake. This track feels like the culmination of the album. The album started off as Black Thought being pissed at the world but now he is on top of it because he wasn't content with where he was at. He didn't wait for something to happen either. He worked his ass off along with Questlove to make The Roots a legendary group that will live in hip-hop lore forever. So he can now look at his work and all the accomplishments with a smile on his face.

I didn't review the last two tracks but whatever. I think the album should have ended on Fire so that's where I'll end the review. Black Thought was on point throughout the entire album and the features were perfect. With this album, Black Thought jumped from the rappers I thought were dope category into the My favorite rappers of all time category. He was not outshined on any of the tracks where there were features and he absolutely murdered the tracks where he was on by himself. The Roots are like the San Antonio Spurs. The band may have changing parts throughout the years but the main guys in Black Thought and Questlove have stayed the same and the band has enjoyed unparalleled success in hip-hop. They continue to drop amazing projects on a seemingly yearly basis and really have no peers at their level.

Some final thoughts on How I Got Over. This is a near perfect album for me. Like I said I wasn't feeling the last two tracks to close the album out and wasn't sold on Right On. Other then that, I have no complaints. It's a 9.5/10 album for me, an A album. It was perfect at only about 45 minutes. There were no wasted verses, the hooks were catchy and had real great messages behind them. The beats were on point. It is a project that should be played on the radio. Like I said before, I have no idea why it isn't on the radio but that's neither here nor there. If you haven't listened to it yet, please give it a listen. It will brighten up your day. Also let me know if you want me to review any album, new or old. peace

Oddisee- Own Appeal

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