MUSIC: The Roots – When The People Cheer


If The Roots wanted to slack off, you could hardly blame them. Last year, they released the well received collaboration with Elvis Costello “Wise Up Ghost” while continuing their work as the house band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. They followed him to make history as the house band on The Tonight Show and announced plans for another edition of their annual festival Roots Picnic. No one could fault them for taking a little time to acclimate to their new job and keeping up the standard of their old one.

But The Roots aren’t ones to do what’s expected, characteristic of a hip-hop band that employs brass as a regular piece of its compositions. On April 8, ?uestlove dropped word that their 16th studio album “…And Then They Shoot Your Cousin” will be available on May 13th. The new single “When The People Cheeraccompanied the news and served to whet the appetite.
The Roots have constantly revisited their style over the years, creating more lush aural soundscapes even as them pieces get less technically intricate. A simple, innocent melody eventually is muddled with a sparse bass and drum track to lay the foundation for the song’s lyrical content. Oft featured MC Porn opens the festivities with a view into the decision making process of a young parolee. The storytelling and beat feel like the group picked up where they left off on “undun“, painting a picture of a bleak narrative. After a hook drenched in frustration, Black Thought follows with a verse that continues with the cinematic imagery. Detailing an unfaithful “sex addicted introvert” and his taste for strippers, Black Thought drops a seemingly effortless verse that makes you almost pity the subject. It clocks in at a touch over three minutes but it keeps you engaged throughout.
Considering the focus they have on these projects and what they did with “undun,” the scope of this record is going to be interesting. If it’s as tight as this song is, we sha’nt be disappointed. Give it a listen and let us know what you think.
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