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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Phrenology

The Roots

2002

Phrenology

Album Summary

Phrenology is the fifth studio album by American hip hop band The Roots, released on November 26, 2002, by MCA Records. Recording sessions for the album took place during June 2000 to September 2002 at Electric Lady Studios in New York. It was primarily produced by members of the band and features contributions from hip hop and neo soul artists such as Cody ChesnuTT, Musiq Soulchild, Talib Kweli, and Jill Scott. Although it did not parallel the commercial success of the band's previous album, Things Fall Apart, the album reached number 28 on the US Billboard 200 chart and sold steadily, remaining on the chart for 38 weeks. On June 3, 2003, it was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, for shipments of 500,000 copies in the United States. Upon its release, Phrenology received universal acclaim from music critics, who praised its musical direction and lyrical themes, and it was included in numerous publications' year-end lists of the year's best albums.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.29

Votes

5358

Genres

  • Hip Hop
Reviews
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Wed Feb 17 2021
4

What a ride. Coming off of their breakthrough (and my favorite Roots album) "Things Fall Apart," this was incredibly ambitious to make. It veers in a lot of directions, but I feel like the message gets across no matter which way it takes you. I read something once that said "The Roots are not a band you put on for your backyard BBQ." We've got straight forward hip-hop, neosoul, punk, hard rock, and the closer "Thirsty" is some hard house all about the Black experience. So yeah not great sunshine feel good tunes. Black Thought, for me, is one of rap's all time greatest lyricist, so I felt he really captured aspects of the culture that shape the Black mindset in America. A repurposing of the racists study of Phrenology. Gotta love "The Seed 2.0" and the Talib Kweli feature on "Rolling With Heat." I've had the pleasure of seeing them live a few years ago, and I felt like they brought a lot of that energy to this record. It does feel a little jarring and disjointed at times with the abrupt stylistic shifts, so for that I'm going with a 4. This is a fantastic example of what a hip-hop album can be as a work of art.

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Tue Feb 16 2021
4

Ambitious, mature. The Roots never settle. For me this album suffers from a bit of the same issues I have with later Roots albums...almost too much scope, leaving it feeling fractured and lacking cohesion. Black Thought's lyrical skills combined with their expert instrumentation at times feels like drinking from a sonic firehose. But nonetheless, for 2002 this was such a genre-busting effort.

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Mon May 10 2021
1

I 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 dont like rap

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Thu Jan 14 2021
5

I really like the combination of rock, hip hop, and some whacky electronic influences. Quite a few bangers on this album.

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Wed Jun 30 2021
3

Sounds nice. Nothing for me. Reliance on n-bombs makes it hard for me to enjoy all but the most trancendant rap

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Thu Jan 21 2021
5

An amazing masterpiece!

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Fri Mar 26 2021
5

I mean. It's a top 5 hiphop album for me for sure. The whole album is just packed with top-of-the-game, unrelenting, socially-concious spitting backed by power beats. Impossibly good.

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Thu Jan 21 2021
5

Har aldri hørt dette albumet b2b før. Men, WOW, for en overraskelse! Særdeles variert med alt fra "klassisk" rap, til hardcore punk ('!!!!!!!'), frijazz-aktige-greier ('Water') og techno ('Thirsty!'). Favoritter: Quills, Rock you og Thought@Work.

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Wed Apr 07 2021
4

The Roots? Like from the Jimmy Fallon talk show? Unfortunately, this will be many people's initial exposure to these east-coast hip-hop legends. While this isn't the most prominent album in the discography, there is still great music here. There's clear Mos Def influence here, and I fuckin love Black On Black so I'll happily listen. And for the most part it's great! Around the mid-point it does seem to get a little aimless and experimental, which causes it to lose steam for me. This, combined with the 70 minute runtime, makes for a overly long album that maybe could've been broken up into two separate releases (maybe an experimental EP?) and reorganized for a more concise listening experience.

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Tue Nov 02 2021
4

The Roots’ greatest strength is also their greatest weakness; their exemplary musical skill means they can play any style and genre - but just because they can, should they? The album is ambitious, but at times lacks a cohesive satisfying overall mood. But when they’re good they’re very good - The Seed 2.0, Rolling with Heat, Rhymes and Ammo are straight up fire and Black Thought solidifies his reputation as one of the great - but slept on - rappers.

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Tue Jan 19 2021
3

Why this album by the Roots rather than “Things Fall Apart” which contains the Grammy-winning romantic rap ballad “You Got Me”??

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Fri May 07 2021
2

Old school rap con algunas canciones experimentales, pero no me gustó mucho. Liked songs: Seed Break your way off Something in the way of things

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Sun Jan 31 2021
5

I heard this album in my RA's room not long after it came out, and at the time I didn't really know much about The Roots. It blew my mind then, and it blew my mind again today. Black Thought is the best lyricist in the game imo. Best track: Thought @ Work

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Thu Jan 14 2021
5

My favorite Roots album and one of my favorite hip-hop albums.

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Fri Jan 15 2021
5

obviously, a great album

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Sat Jan 30 2021
5

FIVE STARS

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Sun Jan 17 2021
5

I've listened to this many times, great album!

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Mon Apr 05 2021
5

Own this, bought on NASA Glenn trip. Not quite as good as their previous but still amazing

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Fri Apr 02 2021
5

No notes needed

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Thu Apr 08 2021
5

yes

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Fri Apr 23 2021
5

Wow, this album is all over the place and also somehow ...not. I like it.

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Sat Jan 30 2021
5

Man. The Roots are great. I loved this album.

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Fri Feb 19 2021
5

genuinely a revelation - infectious hooks and instrumentals, great vocals, hooray !

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Mon May 17 2021
5

Hat einfach Spaß gemacht.

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Sat Jun 05 2021
5

LOVED this. Wasn’t expecting The Roots to have a hardcore punk song. Loved the variety

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Mon Jul 19 2021
5

This has vecome my favorite rap album atm. And also the best rap album I've at heard so far after about 100 albums on this list. It's nice to listen to and also experimental and special in many ways. About 4.5 to me butI'll give it a 5 because it's the only really good rap album I've heard so far. (On this list)

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Sun Jun 27 2021
5

This music pulled me in. Some of the tracks are great. A few are not to my own liking, but that's just a matter of taste. Really talented group.

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Tue May 04 2021
5

I love everything by The Roots ❤️. Hadn’t listened to this in a long time and was glad to do so again

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Tue Apr 27 2021
5

was good

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Tue May 25 2021
5

Brilliant hip-hop album.

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Mon May 10 2021
5

Необычно. Это джазз-рэп, нео-соул или что-то подобное. есть саксофон, МНОГО бэков. Я морж который почти не понимает рэп на слух, пыталась полезть в джиниус но там много диалекта, если прям зацепит то позже переведу. Неожиданно замечен тот самый популярный сэмпл барабанов. Пока 10/10 буду переслушивать. Оао хватит ли мне времени слушать каждый день альбомы из списка¿

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Mon Jun 14 2021
5

I like the hell out of this. It has a great sense of rhythm and changes up style frequently so that you don't get bored. It's unique and I dig it.

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Sun Jul 11 2021
5

Very very good album, with forwardthinking beats, experimental songs, emotional power, incredible rapping from Black thought and a new aesthetic for the Roots. Also great to see some hiphop on this very dadrock focused list. Aside from a few weak hooks this is perfect, my score would be a 9/10 but you can't do that in this systen so i'm giving it a full score.

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Thu Jul 29 2021
5

I’ll never forget the sousaphone solo when I saw them live. Top notch

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Mon Aug 02 2021
5

Really varied both instrumentally and vocally. I love the focus on live instrumentation. The lyrics are great too.

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Wed Aug 04 2021
5

one of the best roots albums of all time.

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Thu Aug 19 2021
5

meh

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Wed Sep 08 2021
5

Loved it the whole way through

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Thu Sep 16 2021
5

Great hip hop album with a lot of variety that transitions into different genres at times. Big fan of The Roots!

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Wed Sep 22 2021
5

Bangers.

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Wed Nov 10 2021
5

Seed 2.0 is always solid...love this album cover...the lyrics are powerful, but the beats make me long for the times when more rap sounded this way - powerful lyrics + a unique beat

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Wed Nov 17 2021
5

End of the album is better.

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Fri Jan 21 2022
5

Might as well become my fav genre lmao 5/5

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Mon Jan 24 2022
5

Maybe it's Philadelphia-bias, but this is The Roots at their best.

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Wed Jan 26 2022
5

I love this one and I've love The Roots in general so this can't be objective. I remember hearing 'The Seed' for the first time and just howling, like, what the hell am I listening to? If 'The Chronic' is a Netflix-era Michael Bay movie, this one is a late 80s John McTiernan movie. It's just as fun, but it's got something to chew on, too.

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Sat Jan 29 2022
5

Sooooo good!

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Wed Feb 02 2022
5

Great album.

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Sat Feb 05 2022
5

Fantastic hip hop album! More electronic than I was expecting.

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Thu Mar 31 2022
5

The Roots are just so solid. One of the best bands out there.

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Thu May 05 2022
5

Amazing. Best hip hop album I’ve heard in years. Maybe ever.

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Fri May 27 2022
5

It's funny I was just listening to this album the other day digging through albums that had sampled The Incredible Bongo Band. And they did sample "Apache" in the song "Thought@Work." This is The Roots' fifth studio album and has a lot of contributors including Ursula Rucker, Nelly Furtado, Talib Kweli, Cody Chesnutt, Musiq, Jill Scott and poet Amiri Baraka. The album is named after the discredited pseudoscience of Phrenology which was the study of head shapes to determine intelligence and character and rationalized racism in the 19th century. Wow! Learn something new everyday, some which make you shake your head or worse. Anyway, subject matter-wise, I did not hear a songs about racism per se, but on a variety of other subjects: anti-ganster, certain aspects of the inner city and hip hop culture, relationships and band member issues. Yeah, covering a lot, as does the music described as hip hop incorporating elements of rock, jazz, techno, hardcore punk and soul. This is a big album trying to do a lot and it accomplishes it with everything I heard. It is not really sprawling but has a focus to it as you listen. Lots of good songs on this album. As previously mentioned, " Thought@Work" samples "Apache" and has a great groove. Talk about a great groove, "The Seed (2.0)" featuring Cody ChesnuTT and remixing his song sounds like vintage 1973 Isley Brothers with a very soulful feel. The song is based on Muddy Waters' "The Blues Had a Baby and Named it Rock and Roll" using that forvhip hop to neo-soul in a very innovative way. The first single off the album "Break You Off" is another great soul-based song about trying to steal someone's girlfriend. A great majestic orchestra ending. This album is 77 minutes but does not seem nearly that long and is well- worth the listen.

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Mon Jun 27 2022
5

All the rock

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Thu Aug 18 2022
5

I mean, it’s The Roots….it’s great

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Fri Aug 19 2022
5

Well this is from 2002, so is doubtlessly awful. Except it isn't. This is hip hop that goes in unexpected and rewarding directions. Tracks that tickle your earballs delightfully. Tracks that make you feel slightly uneasy. Tracks that flow. Tracks that pop. I will be listening to this again. Given the year - unbelievable!

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Thu Aug 25 2022
5

9/10. This was really good, I'll have to listen to it again.

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Sun Sep 11 2022
5

I never managed to get into The Roots, which I will admit is on me – as anyone who (like me) knows them as "that band from Jimmy Fallon" is not late to the game, they missed the whole tournament. What stopped me from really being into them was never listening to this record.

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Sun Sep 18 2022
5

Fucking hell... this one of the most far reaching albums I've ever heard. Insane experimental fusion of Hip Hop, RnB, Soul, Prog, Techno, Metal, Jazz, Funk... I want this on Vinyl

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Tue Sep 20 2022
5

Heavy use of AMAZING samples. Amazing features. Has a great blend of deeper, lyrically impressive tracks and songs that are more laid back and almost psych

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Fri Sep 23 2022
5

Apart from their debut album and the John Legend collab, this is quintessential Roots

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Wed Sep 28 2022
5

Truly unbelievably good album from the best musical act out of Philadelphia. Album starts out hot, stays hot through the middle, dips a little before the end, and ends on a high note. So many great tracks, but my favorite has to be Rolling with Heat

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Thu Oct 13 2022
5

Damn, I regret not sitting down with The Roots before. Of course the performances are perfect, but I honestly was shocked by how strong the album was over a longer duration than I typically prefer.

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Thu Oct 13 2022
5

The Roots are always such a delight. They were one of my first forays into hip hop, back when I was still a classic-rock purist, so they will always be a little special to me. Not to mention ?uestlove might be one of the most important drummers of the last 30 years, if not the most important. Loved this.

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Wed Nov 09 2022
5

Stupendously funky and awesome.

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Wed Nov 16 2022
5

If there is a perfect contemporary music group out there, it is The Roots. Every member is a god damn genius, and mind-meltingly skilled. And the songs on this joint? Damn. A great listen from start to finish. Favorite Track: "Something In The Way of Things" which is straight up beat jazz complete with spoken word. Fantastic!

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Sat Jul 10 2021
4

This is a great album. Ashamed to say I didn’t know much about it… I’ll be exploring further!

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Wed Nov 04 2020
4

Hip-hop-band, alsidigt, støvet, featurepræget

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Wed Feb 17 2021
4

I enjoyed this album. A couple tracks went a little long for me. I think overall, it sounded really cool and I liked a lot of the lyrics, features, etc. I wish I had more to say here.

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Tue Feb 16 2021
4

This album is weird but awesome, it has such a wide scope, from garage to the feeling that you're actively drowning it has everything

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Tue Jan 19 2021
4

Roots duh

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Sun Feb 28 2021
4

Some of these flows were too insane to give anything else. Admittedly lots of it was like fuckin woah. But this kept me awake when I was fucking near death.

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Mon Mar 01 2021
4

Nice. 4 stars.

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Thu Jan 14 2021
4

El rap y hippity hoppity no son lo mío, pero eso no quita que este disco es muy bueno y demuestra que el rap no es solo beat y rimas. Me gustó mucho The Seed (2.0)

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Thu Jan 14 2021
4

No sabía que ellos tocaban the seed 2.0 ni que se llamaba así jajaja. Buen hippity hoppity de ese que ya no hacen y muy buena mezcla de diferentes ritmos. The Seed, Pussy Galore, Rhymes and Ammo y Thirsty! mis favoritas

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Tue Jan 19 2021
4

First song is so dope! Really solid album I thoroughly enjoyed it

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Tue Jul 20 2021
4

Another from my collection. It aged well. I’d give it 5, but it’s not entirely consistent. Still will add it to my rotation again though. Loved it.

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Thu Jan 14 2021
4

De los grupos más originales en hip-hop y de pocos que pueden hacer que suene bien la combinación con instrumentos en vivo. Es como una clase de un experto para entender cómo puedes mezclar chingos de ritmos con hip hop y hacerlo bien... no como la mayoría.

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Thu Jul 22 2021
4

The Roots are a group that, despite my persistent journey into hip hop, I still haven't heard much from--I've heard more solo work from Black Thought. On first listen, I'm not much for picking up lyrics (and given the title and the Roots themselves, I know there's heavy lyrical content on here), but the music itself is really strong. It's an album that I'm sure would reward repeat listens, but based on the strength of the sound and the rapping, I can already say it's a great album. Excellent energy and a lot of cool styles explored. Favorite tracks: Quills, Rhymes and Ammo, The Seed 2.0, Thought @ Work. Album art: I'd say this is iconic as far as hip hop albums go. I've seen this countless times. Phrenology itself is a disturbing concept, and this art style throws back to an era when it was unfortunately a real thing. The intricacy of the art in the regions of the head/mind is incredible. 4/5

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Wed Feb 17 2021
4

Really enjoyed this one! The rhythm and groove especially. I didn’t pick up much on lyrics but loved the vibe and the drive this record had throughout. Definitely something I’ll be playing again.

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Mon Feb 22 2021
4

I enjoyed this album very much.

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Thu Jan 14 2021
4

Rock you y toughts @ work muy bien Water es una joya.

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Thu Jan 21 2021
4

I hadn’t listened to this album before this project. I really enjoyed all the grooves and different song flows.

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Thu Jul 22 2021
4

This album was all over the place and I loved that. Songs as short as 30 seconds or as long as ten minutes. very easy to listen to as the beats and other ambient sounds carried through most of the songs, especially on Break You Off and Water. The songs felt so short but were super long. Love this album art as well. Surprised this came out in 2011!

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Sat Jan 30 2021
4

this album gives me memories of college

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Thu Apr 29 2021
4

Enjoying this a great deal. 7/10 (4*)

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Wed Feb 17 2021
4

Good

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Wed Feb 17 2021
4

Meant to use the Tribe Called Quest review for this one as I was playing catch up but they both stand about the same for me. Suprisingly enjoyable compared to what my typical taste is, wouldnt seek out but could enjoy when it comes on

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Thu Apr 29 2021
4

One of the best rap albums from this century, surely.

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Sat Jul 03 2021
4

Al blijft dit niet echt mijn genre, heeft dit album heel wat invloeden uit rock, jazz en soul. Deze interessante mix maakt dit wel een leuk album

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Thu Feb 25 2021
4

surprisingly fun. i listened twice.

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Fri Jun 25 2021
4

Awesome album. A lot of soul, a lot of intelligent hip-hop. Very nice soulful, jazzy vibe.

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Tue Feb 23 2021
4

Love the flow of everything. Nice beats.

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Wed Jun 02 2021
4

A typically strong neo-soul outing from this consistently rock solid hip hop band. There's some really nice jazzy and even prog. rock touches throughout this record, but a couple of weaker moments (e.g. "Pussy Galore"). Like maybe 80-90 per cent of albums that run longer than 45 minutes, I can't help but feel this would have been a better album with a little editing. Favourite tracks: "Sacrifice", "Rolling With Heat", "The Seed (2.0)", and "Break You Off"

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Thu Mar 04 2021
4

lyrical

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Tue Mar 23 2021
4

Why are "break you off" and "water" so gosh darn long

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Tue Apr 27 2021
4

This was a lovely album. Very powerful and indicative of the times.

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Tue Apr 06 2021
4

Prvo da kažem, pjesme koje sam mislio da će mi biti najslabije na albumu je ispalo da su definitivno najbolje (Sacrifice i Complexity). Album koji je malo više okrenut rnb žanru za razliku od prijašnjih albuma. Album ne bi preporučio onima kojima nikad nisu slušali The Roots da im bude upoznavanje s njima. Naravno svi znaju The Seed (2.0.) klasika od pjesme. Većina albuma je super, neke pjesme bi maknuo poput Something In the Way of Things (In Town) i skratio pjesmu Break You Off, i ne znam, Thirsty! nisam očekivao da će tak zvučati, i to još na kraj albuma. Al ugl dosta dobar album, nisam očekivao da će mi se tak svidit. 3.9/5

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Sun Apr 18 2021
4

This is pretty fresh even after 20 years.

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Tue May 04 2021
4

Interesting album with dope lyrics from black thought

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Thu May 06 2021
4

Good start to the thing. This is perfect for like a hangout and just having a chill vibe but keeping the mood up.

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Mon May 10 2021
4

Pretty damn good Peaks right in the middle at seed 2.0

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Fri May 07 2021
4

First off, Black Thought is a wizard on the mic. The Seed (2.0) is one of my favorite songs, super nostalgic, but I had never listened to the entire album. Didnt know how different !!! and Thirsty! were from the rest of the album.

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Mon May 10 2021
4

some bops some weird ones

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Tue May 11 2021
4

Different from what I thought it'd be

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Fri May 14 2021
4

Dope

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Tue Jun 22 2021
4

What a punchy album. This record bangs from top to bottom, with smart raps and hooky beats. Lots of cool messaging and visceral rhymes.

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Thu Jul 29 2021
4

definitely ahead of its time. as for non-native English speaker worth reading lyrics and relistening to all of it. imho see a lot of innovative ideas and actually the album feels like there's been a lot of work put into it. some instrumentals are very very cool and fun to listen to.

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Tue Aug 03 2021
4

Un d'aquells discos que sobrepassen el génere. Hip hop de llibre, però també temes de pur r&b/soul com 'The Seed 2.0', 'Complexity' o 'Break You Off', flirtejos amb el pop a 'Sacrifice' o apropament a la experimentació a 'The Water'. O, simplement, temes tan bons com 'Pussy Galore'. Molt a prop de les 5*

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Sat Aug 07 2021
4

The Roots are masters of their craft, and they don't pull their punches in this funky and in-your-face record. Black Thought is an absolute poet in his cadence and word choice while he raps, and ?uestlove continues to drop great sounding rhythms that break the mold of the typical "thump and bass." This album has more studs than duds almost 20 years later, but sits in the middle of The Roots great discography. Favorite Songs: Thought @ Work, The Seed (2.0), Complexity Least Favorite Song: Something In The Way of Things (In Town)

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Sun Aug 08 2021
4

Wow - so many styles all expertly mixed together and excellent flow for the rap.

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Tue Aug 17 2021
4

A great classic that has been a pleasure to sink my teeth into. There were a few songs that have been on high rotation for many years so, again, to go back and here those singles in the context of a whole album has been a real joy. 4 stars as there are a few songs that are a bit "grating" and it's hard for me to place those songs as neccessary additions to an otherwise well considered and highly influence album.

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Tue Aug 17 2021
4

Awesome hip hop

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Wed Sep 08 2021
4

Really good album but a weird choice to be the sole Roots inclusion. It's one of their weaker offerings, which just shows how impressive of a discography they have.

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Fri Sep 24 2021
4

4.2 - I love this record both for its contributions to a conscious hip hop sound, as well as for its sonic explorations of noise, ambience and jazz. At times I hear the precursors for artists like Flying Lotus, especially in track like "Something in the Way..." and "Water." Other tracks ground this record with strong MC'ing and creative beats - "Pussy Galore", "Complexity", Break You Off"... Add neo soul into the mix and you get something sprawling and ambitious that digests and reinterprets sounds of the early-aughts.

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Mon Sep 27 2021
4

Fantastic Rap & Hip Hop album

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Thu Oct 07 2021
4

My flatmate at uni was a big fan of this, but I have only a vague recollection of it. Enjoyable, though, very raw and aggressive in places, in a good way.

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Mon Oct 11 2021
4

Let down by a couple of dud tracks but the majority of the album massively makes up for it. Seed 2.0 being an obvious highlight

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Mon Oct 11 2021
4

Altbacken und dadurch seltsam zeitlos. Einfach extrem kohärent. Macht Spass ohne Flach zu sein und die politische Haltung enthält 100% weniger Zeigefinger als Prediger gen Himmel pointen. Ausgestreckte 4.4

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Sat Oct 23 2021
4

Hard to not love The Roots

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Sun Oct 24 2021
4

Classic album but not my favorite by them.

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Wed Oct 27 2021
4

Great hip hop album, lots of "featuring" artists on each song. There's some consistency in the quick flow of the rappers, but otherwise the songs themselves have a lot of variation and the band goes into a few different musical styles. Tapers off towards the end, some more experimental tunes that kind of drag down the energy.

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Wed Nov 10 2021
4

Bumpin'

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Wed Nov 10 2021
4

Super eclectic. Know the Roots as hip hop, which this is, but it delves into so much more.

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Wed Nov 10 2021
4

Need to spend more time with this album, but I have really enjoyed it.

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Thu Nov 11 2021
4

Yeah, awesome stuff, though a bit weird that it's the only album by The Roots on the list. Being a bit contrary, I like the more genre bending experimental tracks that a lot of people seem to be complaining about, heh. Gonna go for 4 stars, but I suspect it could bump to 5 with more listens... Fave track - "The Seed (2.0)" is a fantastic tune.

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Thu Nov 11 2021
4

Like this album way more than expected. Wild mixture of musical elements and experimentation across the album, some which I absolutely hated but most of it was great or at the very least interesting.

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Mon Nov 15 2021
4

Awesome LP. Very well produced, great variety.

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Fri Nov 26 2021
4

2002. Thought @ Work, The Seed (2.0)

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Sun Nov 28 2021
4

The only thing not making this a 5 is the rampant homophobia.

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Sat Dec 04 2021
4

Loved the seed 2.0. Great all around

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Sun Dec 05 2021
4

Very sick, need to finish

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Mon Dec 06 2021
4

Great R&B beats with some solid rap over the top, great stuff

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Fri Dec 10 2021
4

Never heard the Roots before - love it! Very exciting to listen to, you never know when a bit of metal might be snuck into one of the tracks somewhere. So many inventive and creative ways of making sounds throughout. Not exactly easy listening but it's eye-opening and raw. Pure poetry. Sometimes it was tiring trying to pick up all the lyrics, I wanted to hear them though!

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Wed Dec 15 2021
4

Great ones but also some duds

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Mon Dec 20 2021
4

Good, raw hiphop.

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Mon Dec 27 2021
4

Solid and engaging.

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Tue Jan 11 2022
4

water went a bit wild but most of tunes were v listenable - shame they support Jimmy fucking Fallon now

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Mon Jan 17 2022
4

Absolute banger of a hip hop record.

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Sat Jan 22 2022
4

Love the Roots. Great album.

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Fri Feb 04 2022
4

Not bad.

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Sun Feb 06 2022
4

Thinking about why you would pick this album out of all their albums for this made me really that you could justify picking most any of their albums. Great band, great album

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Sun Feb 06 2022
4

Good times

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Thu Feb 10 2022
4

I'm definitely a fan of full instrumentation hip-hop. Some very surprising songs on here, like Water where it goes into some weird krautrock-y kosmiche music at times, could have been a Can song halfway through. Songs like Rock You, The Seed (2.0), Rolling With Heat, are all super vibe-y. Some of it is a bit bloat-y but overall I'm a fan. 3.5 to 4.

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Mon Feb 14 2022
4

Love this album. Not much else to say besides it was fun.

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Mon Feb 14 2022
4

I'm pretty happy with this album. I'd listen to it again. Admittedly, I didn't give every song my full attention since it was at some points more background then lyrically attended to.....

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Fri Feb 25 2022
4

This is really good - I always gave it a skip because it seemed like people who thought hip hop was childish liked it. But it's genuinely great. It has a great love of old school hip hop, evidenced on Thought @ Work, but also does great live instrumentation as on The Seed. No wonder ?uestlove is huge now!!! Really great, loved a lot, liked a lot. Feel like this might be a five star album in a few more listens.

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Wed Mar 02 2022
4

// Yo I hold the mic that could be thrown as a pipe bomb, bring it just to sling it at your favorite icon //

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Fri Mar 11 2022
4

South Philly's finest. Black Thought is still one of the most underrated MCs in the game. The beats on this thing at certain points make me think of the best block party ever. A little long. Favorite tracks: "Thought @ Work", "The Seed"

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Tue Mar 15 2022
4

This is one of those rap albums that better lyrically minded listeners can parse. The album goes a lot of musical directions with its orchestration and is definetly a kitchen sink style. Definetly worth a revisit. Break You Off is so smooth.

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Tue Mar 15 2022
4

Always salutes the Roots

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Tue Mar 22 2022
4

Genre: East Coast Hip Hop 4/5 Phrenology, as a scientific term, is defined as measuring the skull to deduce intelligence and/or any other charaterisitics, all generally false or pseudo-scientific, and something that had been used against black men for years throughout the 1800s, during slavery, as well as post-slavery. The Roots take that term to title their album with, taking it for themselves and giving the term new life and new context. This album might not be a skull examination in the scientific sense, but it certainly is an exploration into Black Thought's world view, which is a trip worthy of taking. His rapping is some of the best so far throughout this exercise, although I have to admit there has been very little so far. While the album is full of highlights (Sacrifice, The Seed 2.0, Complexity), my personal favorite on this album is the 10+ minute long, experimental rap epic, Water. Complete with a jarring beat switch in the middle, this song does the best job of showcasing what makes The Roots so good, their biting social commentary, their tremendous live musical backdrops, and their willingness to experiment and try new things. This album sounds very close to To Pimp a Butterfly's older brother, and the influence is clear. While I don't think this quite reaches the heights TPaB reached, this is a tremendous hip hop effort. Still sounds as fresh and exciting as I'm sure it did in the aughts. Great shit.

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Wed Mar 23 2022
4

As my other reviews have shown, I’m not a big hip hop fan. But the Roots are able to make music that is good and dare I say, I enjoy? Maybe it’s the live band, maybe it’s that they’re from Philly, I don’t know. But they’re damn good.

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Wed Mar 23 2022
4

I listened to this a lot when it came out. It holds up pretty well. There are still a few songs I always skip.

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Wed Mar 23 2022
4

Hip hop/rap has generally been a bit of a blind spot for me. But I hear a record like this it definitely occurs that I’ve been missing something. Plus a hardcore punk song!!!!!!? I’ll be listening to this again.

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Fri Mar 25 2022
4

25th March 2022 Listened in the front room while working on CC Hub. Went to watch X in the evening with Gareth in Peckham. Enjoyed this, Questlove is a legend and this is definitely a cornerstone. Less a fan of the experimental end tracks but some bangers on here.

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Mon Mar 28 2022
4

crazy album, but it keeps you on your toes. very cool.

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Tue Mar 22 2022
4

They went in a few directions in this. I like the funk/soul vibe to some of those. Hip hop is not my fav genre but I dig the Roots, maybe since I'm philly born.

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Sat Apr 16 2022
4

A big sprawling album, it could maybe be slightly tighter/more focused… but none of it seems like filler and it shows the breadth of the group’s talents and scale of their ambition. Perhaps shaving bits off here and there would defeat the purpose.

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Tue May 03 2022
4

I could lower my house on this album. Great energy most all the way through.

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Fri May 06 2022
4

Brilliant hip hop album

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Wed May 11 2022
4

Banger of an album. So many dense, DENSE flows from Black Thought on this thing makes me excited to go back and listen to try and get all of it. It has a really nice mix of heavy hitters and soul inspired cuts, as well as a lot of rock influence. As an avid RTJ listener I can 100% see the inspiration from The Roots. 8/10

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Fri May 13 2022
4

cool album, with many influences and a more developed musical background than many other rap groups

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Wed May 25 2022
4

This album was great. Some experimental stuff and good lyrics. The first half with songs like rock you were way better than the second half though

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Tue Jun 21 2022
4

Mostly Masterful. Interspersed with some daft filler

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Wed Jun 22 2022
4

If you cut this down to it’s 45 best minutes this would be 5. Great rapping, good hooks, and lush instrumentation. Unfortunately there was also a decent amount of filler sounds, interludes, and spoken word that I did not enjoy. Talib Kweli was a nice surprise on both of the tracks he featured on. Again it says a lot about this list that none of the most important rap albums from 2011 are on here (take care, watch the throne) but this middle aged safe group is.

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Wed Jun 22 2022
4

I find this more interesting than great. They decided to stretch out a bit. There are jazzier elements than on the prior releases. Seed (2.0) is built on a riff that could be 70s era Stones. I am a big ?uestlove's fan and his playing here is superb. If anything it shows that hip-hop can co-exist with rap, funk, soul and rock - sometimes in the same song.

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Fri Jun 24 2022
4

Fallon may be a goober but he has good taste 4

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Mon Jul 04 2022
4

I bought this album in the mid-2000s on the strength of The Seed which is a cracking tune. There are some fresh beats on this album and it's somewhat more cultured hip-hop than most.

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Thu Jul 07 2022
4

I like the diversity of the songs.

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Fri Jul 08 2022
4

I wouldn’t call this the best album by The Roots, but it does have the one song people know by them, so I know why it’s here. But it’s still quite good. Questlove knows how to write a spicy tune. B+

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Fri Jul 08 2022
4

Never really checked out more from The Roots than the obvious hits but this is some good hip hop with a few curveballs thrown here and there. Definitely too long for my taste in this genre but very enjoyable.

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Fri Jul 08 2022
4

I liked this, but it was definitely overlong. I think I would have given this a 4 if it were shorter, but as it is, I'll give it a 3.5. 3.5/5

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Sat Jul 09 2022
4

This is such a great album with probably the broadest range of influences displayed by a The Roots record. As conscious as ever and with some classic hip-hop beats but also the hard-core punk of '!!!!!!!', the chill soul of Complexity, the almost indie-rock sound of 'The Seed 2.0', and the beat-switching funk of 'Break You Off' Some of it doesn't quite work for me (the soundscape that makes up the second half of Water is quite indulgent for example), and I'm very surprised this is the Roots album that was chosen over Things Fall Apart or Game Theory, but it's a really impressive dive into a lot of different sounds

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Sat Jul 09 2022
4

This has grown on me. Loved it by the end.

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Fri Jul 15 2022
4

Long time Roots fan, but this was an album I never really revisited frequently. When it was released it was seen as a departure - and rightly so, it is radically different from Thing Fall Apart. Looking back at it now, it’s kind of a blueprint for where the Roots would go in the 21st Century. Though The Roots hit higher high’s on subsequent records (like Game Theory and Undun), Phrenology gets a lot right. It’s a bit like a classic rock double album gone hip-hop. Stylistically varied, with the first half of the record focusing on more traditional songs/structures and an experimental (yet accessible) second half. Glad to revisit this one, it’s given me a new appreciation for a record that I overlooked/under-appreciated.

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Tue Jul 19 2022
4

Have to admit I only really knew them as the Fallon house band so was very pleasantly surprised. Musically very diverse, quite jazzy even. And I think another listen to catch the lyrics would be a good idea.

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Tue Aug 02 2022
4

This was a great listen. I've been meaning to give The Roots a proper chance for a while. The rapping was excellent and I really loved how well they incorporated rock into their sound. The seed is a clear standout track, heard it in passing before but it really blew me away. Sadly the album drags a bit on the back end and loses focus, could definitely do with cutting a few tracks. Will definitely be digging further into their discography after this.

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Thu Aug 04 2022
4

Really cool hip hop album. I love the use of real instruments and the creative approach of blending genres. Definitely need to listen to these guys more. Favorite song: Something In The Way of Things

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Sat Aug 06 2022
4

I dig it

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Mon Aug 15 2022
4

Lindo

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Tue Aug 16 2022
4

I enjoyed this and it made me curious.

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Tue Aug 23 2022
4

I can't believe I missed this album when it was released. Loved it, sits in the middle ground between NWA and De La Soul.

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Wed Aug 24 2022
4

Really good cover art. Really loved the first half and kinda lost interest

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Wed Aug 24 2022
4

I was pretty familiar with this album. The Seed is soo good.

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Fri Aug 26 2022
4

Review #4 of 1001 Supremely talented group, pioneers of hip hop. This is not my favorite genre of music, but I can appreciate The Roots for the talent they possess and some of the experimentation they add in to this album. I enjoyed this. 4/5

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Mon Aug 29 2022
4

I only know the Roots from the Tonight Show, but this is a raveup of hip hop with real instruments. Would be five stars if they edited it down from 70+ minutes.

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Thu Sep 01 2022
4

Excellent album. Haven't heard much of The Roots before but really enjoyed it.

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Mon Sep 05 2022
4

Liked this one. Great musical variety with raw, soulful and energetic tracks

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Tue Sep 06 2022
4

Great grooves, beats, and poetry. Dig it.

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Tue Sep 06 2022
4

Funky fresh

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Wed Sep 07 2022
4

Fantastic.

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Fri Sep 09 2022
4

VMP

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Tue Sep 27 2022
4

Despite loving jazz rap, this wasn't my favourite thing. There's some amazing tracks here, The Seed (2.0), Sacrifice, Thought at Work, but then there's just too much weird and mismatched other stuff. I admire the eccentricity in jumping all over the place, but not everything lands.

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Thu Sep 29 2022
4

Fun listen.

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Sat Oct 01 2022
4

When I say Rise Up

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Thu Oct 06 2022
4

The best rock rap I’ve ever heard

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Mon Oct 10 2022
4

Really quite good.

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Fri Oct 14 2022
4

Low-key, listenable and rootsy (pardon the pun) hip-hop. I like the collaborations, especially with Jill Scott and Cody Chestnut. They stretch it out into some more adventurous free-jazz pieces near the end.

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Fri Oct 14 2022
4

I really liked "Thew Roots Come Alive" which was  my intro to The Roots and released just before Phrenology.  What I like about their style of hip hop is that they aren't afraid to play actual instruments. Crazy kids!   Phrenology doesn't welcome me in right away but by the time we get to  Thought@Work and The Seed they return to the style that hooked me to ..Comes Alive.  I give it +1 on the basis it's probably the only The Roots album that made it to the list. The album goes on a little too long to get an honest 4.

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Mon Oct 17 2022
4

this album was really cool. in part because it was quite unique. very impressed.

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Mon Oct 17 2022
4

Pretty strange but quite unique

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