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Rising Down (Bonus Track Version)

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Let’s face it: The Roots are not looking to supply the beats for your backyard barbecue. This is deadly serious music — angry, disturbed, gloomy, urgent, raw, and fearless. Led by the always adventurous ?uestlove, the band puts most of the pieces together (hip-hop, rock, psychedelic soul) in just the right way, balancing the cohesiveness of earlier albums with the daringness of later ones. Black Thought offers consistently pointed verses, and a bevy of guest rappers — including Common, Talib Kweli, and old pal Malik B — help pound home the message. “I ain’t tryin’ to clown,” Black Thought insists (as if he had to tell us) atop the slinky, slightly ominous grooves of the title track, which features sharp rhymes from Mos Def and Styles P. The filthy, menacing “Get Busy” pierces with relentless electro-fuzz beats, and the coolly defiant “I Will Not Apologize” soars atop a supple Fela Kuti sample. The gloom finally lifts a bit on the jazzy “Rising Up,” which almost feels like an antiquated nod to the group’s more polished, smoothly flowing vibe of the previous decade. Clearly, though, times have changed, and the Roots’ dismal, near-apocalyptic vision of corrupt politicians, natural disasters, economic hardship, and rampant violence may not be pleasant, but it doesn’t seem too far off the mark either.

Customer Reviews

The Roots-Rising Down

Having signed with Def Jam, releasing the excellent Game Theory, The Roots are back with Rising Down. Supposedly having used different instrumentation and more guest appearances, here is how The Roots faired. Rising Down: Precise drum pattern and a simple electronic guitar line flows throughout, paving the way for the emcees to tear it up. Mos Def blazes things first, handing it off to Black Thought who spits about global warming and Styles P spits a verse blasting the medical departments. Solid track that serves as more of a mood track than introduction. 4/5 Get Busy: Heavy synths bleed joined with drums and DJ scratches create the dark uptempo “Get Busy”. Peedi spits “fresh off ya step, I come at ya OG neck, used to the 1,2 check not the 1,2 step”, while burning through bars. 4/5 75 Bars (Black’s Reconstruction): A grumpy tuba growls, while ?uestlove continues the solid drum patterns. Black Thought goes solo on this, no hook, straight bars. This is what emceeing is all about, a lyrical bombardment by Thought that is lovely to listen to. 3.5/5 Criminal: Guitar laced track with strong percussion and a hook similar sounding to “Long Time” off of Game Theory. Thought delivers “I’d done robbed and odd jobbed and gambled enough, cause I’m put up in handcuffs and pissin in a cup, if there’s a God, I don’t know if he listenin or what”. Saigon & Truck North join with North spitting a rebellious verse, Saigon spits some blazing verses with “I’m like a senior citizen, still livin but getting benefits, put emphasis on hittin my nemesis, in high percentages, crooked a** cops are the reason for my belligerence…America polluted by lust”. 4.5/5 I Will Not Apologize: Over a repetitive and rhythmic beat, brass join in at the hook, as The Roots deliver a track on not apologizing for who you are. Basically being who you are, along the way addressing music industry issues and how these days it is hard to stay you. 3.5/5 I Can’t Help It: The dark, intensified “I Can’t Help It” has some eerie vocals on the hook, while robotic keyboards and synth make this a paranoia filled track. Malik B & Porn join Thought for a track about urges and giving into them or not. “My life is on a flight that’s going down, my mother had an abortion with the wrong child, with the time I felt loved, that’s gone now, its replaced by purple rays and storm clouds” spits Porn in a depressed and unloved state. 4.5/5 Singing Man: Truck North, Porn & Black Thought bring together a pain and angered track. Evident by the no love styled hook, Porn spits about the pain, Black Thought delivers a solid verse and Truck North brings some heat. The track is similar in sound to “I Can’t Help It”, intense and dark with paranoia and pain. Its dark, but shows clearly the state of mind and feeling. 4/5 Up There (Unwritten): Mercedes Martinez brings some soft light coating, as the production goes to eerie with Black spitting over. A short track, more like an interlude. 3.5/5 Lost Desire: Malik B, Talib Kweli & Black Thought deliver verses to this electric guitar jammer, as Kweli delivers a great verse. The hook is decent, as the trobbing production is likeable with each emcee delivering on all cylinders. 4/5 The Show: Common assists Thought, over cascading drums and synth. As the hook goes, “the show, the show, it must go on”, Black Thought does an excellent job on the lyrics “I’m at home and the pressure’s on, weakness is never shown, let alone I’m a man made of mere flesh and bone, I can’t help that my heartbeat is a metronome”, while Common’s performance is merely decent. A little disappointing with the Common feature. 3.5/5 Rising Up: This track is basically the lightest track on an album filled with dark, intense and heavy messaged tracks. Everything isn’t all bad here, Thought joins up and coming D.C. newcomer, Wale to bring hope and potential that hip hop can be revived and all the issues that are currently bad. Chrisette Michelle delivers a jazzy hook that talks about a child crying over the music coming out, while Wale claims “the good rappers ain’t eatin”, and Thought confidently claims “we gettin paper like John Travolta” and “we gonna dominate the world like how Oprah did it”. 4.5/5 Birthday Girl: The originally lead single of the album, Roots member, Black Thought felt that it didn’t jive with the album and therefore is seen here as a bonus track. Patrick Stump sings on the chorus with an easy going, poppy and catchy hook. His production, also provided by Stump is breezy guitar that has a summer vibe, as Black Thought spits about what parents deal with and their children. Nice single that is some fun pop by The Roots. 3.5/5 After the excellent Game Theory, The Roots come back with another strong album, that I wouldn’t say is better than Game Theory (that was a heck of an album), but quite close to it. Game Theory possessed a dark, yet emotional vibe throughout and Rising Down follows similarly. From the dark and intensified “I Can’t Help It” or “Singing Man” you can tell that they are back to the dark sounds, just with some different instrumentation. The excellent lead off track, “Rising Down” is strictly fire, Mos Def blazing his verse, Thought speaking on global warming and Styles P who finishes it, over electronic guitar. Peedi Peedi drops an excellent verse on “Get Busy”, Thought goes freestyle on “@15” and “75 Bars (Black’s Reconstruction)” is straight bars. “Criminal” features a solid Saigon verse, while “I Will Not Apologize” is a solid track about being who you are, “Lost Desire” features a strong Kweli verse and “The Show” was decent, a little disappointing with Common. “Rising Up” is the hope after all the dark and intense productions and messages of politics, that ends fittingly. Black Thought is in top shape dropping solid verses, as Rising Down is a good hip hop album, rarely found in the gangsta rap filled mainstream. Rating: 8.5 out of 10

The most consistent group in Hip Hop

Another top notch album from these legends. All true hip hop fans will love this.


Finally a true a Hip Hop album. The best album since Lupe. Can we finally realize that The Roots are one of the greatest Hip Hop Groups to put it down? Can Black Thought please be recognized as a top ten MC of all time?? This is a must have!!


Formed: 1987 in Philadelphia, PA

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the most prolific rap groups, the Roots were also among the most progressive acts in contemporary music, from their 1993 debut through their conceptual 2010s releases. Despite the seemingly archaic practice of functioning as a rap band with several instrumentalists -- from 2007 onward, their lineup even featured a sousaphonist -- they were ceaselessly creative, whether with their own material, or through their varied assortment of collaborations. They went platinum and gold with successive...
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