And Then You Shoot Your Cousin finds the Roots in some version of the comfy purgatory they've been residing since How I Got Over. That isn't. The Legendary's eleventh record was released on May 19, 2014, and you can cop it here and here. The album takes its title from a lyric in KRS-ONE's “Step Into.
Preview, buy, and download songs from the album And Then You Shoot Your Cousin, including ”Theme From Middle of the Night,” ”Never. The Roots Never Track 2 (And Then You Shoot Your Cousin Album) Music like this is what has broadened my mind to go through sleepless. Check out our album review of The Roots's..And Then You Shoot Your Cousin on Rolling Stone.com. Metacritic Music Reviews, And Then You Shoot Your Cousin by The Roots, The concept album about violence in America for the hip hip. More than three minutes go by at the start of …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin, The Roots ' 11th album, before you know for sure that you're. This week, Musical Suds takes a listen to the new Roots album, And Then You Shoot Your Cousin, for their third review. This time we bring on.
Def Jam ; 2014. "Yes, @TheRoots have NEVER been conventional in anything -- least of all our album titles," Questlove tweeted wryly.
announcing the Roots 11th studio album. And Then You Shoot Your Cousin. The way the title is worded, it could almost be the title of a "Louie" episode.
But the phrase comes from KRS-One's "Step Into A World": "MCs more worried about their financial backin'/ Steady packin' a gat as if something's gonna happen/ But it doesn't, they wind up shootin' they cousin, they buggin. " It's a joke, but a bleak, mirthless one, with nothing but dread at its core.
Maybe Louis CK really could use it. Questlove has actually called this record satire, adding "but in that satire, it's an analysis of some of the stereotypes perpetuated in not only the hip-hop community, but in the community. " He has had these things on his mind even more than usual lately; witness his series of thoughtful essays on how hip-hop "failed Black America " for Vulture. "The music originally evolved to paint portraits of real people and handle real problems at close range—social contract, anyone?—but these days, hip-hop mainly rearranges symbolic freight on the black star-liner," he wrote. In many ways, these have been Questlove's concerns since the beginning.
The Roots' late-90s high-water mark Things Fall Apart opened with sampled dialogue between Wesley Snipes and Denzel Washington from Mo' Betta Blues. "It incenses me that own people don't realize our own heritage, our own culture—this is our music!", says Washington. "The people don't come because you don't play the shit that they like," Snipes retorts. In the liner notes, Quest notes the exchange, musing "But what if you gave people what they need? Hmm.
This basic assertion—that there is something people need from pop art that they don't know to ask for—underlines the Roots' career. It's a tricky, contentious notion, but they've always managed to tread this want/need line deftly, even as people shouted at each other over the their shoulders. Roots albums, no matter the landscape around them, always feel sturdy, firm— responsible. in the classic Gangstarr way. To paraphrase what Guru once said, they have a formula, but they update that formula. They've been representing the idea of "Adult Hip Hop" for a shifting demographic for 20 straight years now, and order to keep yourself at such a dignified arms'-length from the prevailing zeitgeist for that long, you actually have to have a pretty canny grasp on it. In some ways, the Roots are in middlebrow-culture heaven: They are well-supported by a cushy, high profile, well-paying TV gig, one that loosens them up to do whatever the hell they want.
But they are in a weird place right now. Their last album started with a neck-kicking snare and closed with a four-movement wordless jazz suite; it sold about 35k in its first week. Around the same time, the Roots backed Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa, who played their Bruno Mars-assisted single "Young Wild & Free", from the execrable 2012 stoner movie Mac and Devin. The soundtrack debuted in the Top 10.
…And Then You Shoot Your Cousin. then, finds the Roots in some version of the comfy purgatory they've been residing since How I Got Over. The album itself is "uncompromising" in the way all Roots albums have been—the sequencing is fluid and streamlined, and touches of avant-garde jazz and older forms of black pop bleed into the fabric. The mood is dour and bleak, and the rappers who assist Black Thought—Dice Raw, Greg P.
—are full-time members of the group by now, as far as listeners are concerned. D. Jackson, the pianist who crafted Undun 's four-movement suite, returns, and he helps whip the conclusion of "The Coming" into a panicked frenzy. The astringent strings swarm the song's edges like locusts clouding a window, and they are the wildest, most anarchic sound here. "Black Rock", which samples the same clotted, smoke-clouded rare 45 that Black Milk used on Album of the Year 's "Deadly Medley", is one of the hardest-hitting and most baleful songs on the album.
The Roots always surprise when they let their edges fray just a bit—Questlove has admitted that he enjoys the moments where he can stop "icing out" his technical precision and let his playing go sloppy. It's an infectious feeling you can hear spread through the entire group; "Black Rock" is the exact meeting point where Quest's cerebral grit meets Black Thought's all-body-blows rapping. They work beautifully this way, the group's own Lennon/McCartney, in ways that they don't when they stray into more conventional, rock-album formalist ambitions. Black Thought remains a spectacular rapper, decades into a career with plenty of invitations to burn out. He hasn't slackened an inch. His flow patterns on "Understand" hit like flurries of jabs to the sternum.
The problem for listeners, of course, remains that he never quite knows how to stop dancing on his toes; he always sounds like he's high-stepping through a tire-field. His writing lands on a vividly sculpted image—"I was born faceless in an oasis, folks disappear here and leave no traces," from "Never", or "I'm down to 95 dollars, that's the extent of my riches/ Out of 99 problems, 98 of them is bitches," from "When the People Cheer"—just as often as it tapers off into bars and bars of stock phrases. It keeps Quest's concept-album ambitions on the frustratingly muddy side. That isn't to say there isn't plenty to think about on Cousin. But most of that thought comes from mood, arrangement, and implication.
The opening track, "Theme From Middle of the Night ," is just that—Nina Simone, singing the luxuriously wallowing theme song for the 1959 film. Mary Lou Williams' gothic, frightening "The Devil " gets sampled for a 40-second snippet that cuts off on the baleful warning "The Devil looks a lot like you and I. " The song leads directly into "Black Rock", the two voices carefully lined up to feel like a direct continuation of each other. There is a squalling burst of musique concrète in "Dies Arae", which erupts with Scott Walker fierceness out of the blank space and marauds through the mix for a minute. The album feels haunted, even plagued, by other voices and memories.
And, of course, the records sounds spectacular. Black Thought's voice sounds raspier and more guttural the older he gets. The snares on "The Dark (Trinity) feel like fingers flicking your ear drums. The Roots have gotten very proficient at making Roots albums. But the hooks on "Never", "When the People Cheer", and "The Coming"—sung by Patty Crash, Modesty Lycan, and Mercedes Martinez, respectively—are somewhat flat and generic-sounding. And the songs themselves rely on a Roots template that feels a little too well-worn to generate much friction anymore—midtempo, muted, built around a minor-key piano line and heavy with intimations of doom.
It's in those moments, the comfortable, careful ones, that you wonder how closely the Roots examine the symbolic freight aboard their own vessel, how far they would be interested in shaking themselves up. Previous review. Leyland Kirby Presents V/Vm / Leyland Kirby:. The Death of Rave (A Partial Flashback) / We Drink to Forget the Coming Storm.