The Roots performing in Toronto, Ontario on March 24, 2007.
|Also known as||The Legendary Roots Crew, The Fifth Dynasty, The Square Roots|
|Origin||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Genres||Alternative hip hop, neo soul, soul, funk, alternative rock, jazz-rap|
|Labels||Def Jam (2005–present) |
DGC, MCA, Interscope-Geffen-A&M (previous)
|Associated acts||Soulquarians, J Dilla, Jill Scott, Martin Luther, Jaguar Wright, Amel Larrieux, John Legend, Dave Chappelle, Erykah Badu, Jazzyfatnastees, Big K.R.I.T., Jimmy Fallon|
|Members||Black Thought |
Captain Kirk Douglas
Damon "Tuba Gooding Jr." Bryson
|Past members||Kenyatta "Kid Crumbs" Warren |
Josh "Rubberband" Abrams
The Roots are an American Grammy Award-winning hip hop/neo soul band, formed in 1987 by Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter and Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. It is known for a jazzy, eclectic approach to hip hop which includes live instrumentals. Malik B., Leonard "Hub" Hubbard, and Josh Abrams were added to the band, originally called the Square Roots.
Since their first independent album release, the band has released 10 studio albums, two EPs, two collaboration albums and have collaborated with a wide range of artists from different genres. The Roots have served as the house band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon since its premiere in 2009. The Roots' work has been repeatedly met with critical acclaim. About.com ranked the band #7 on its list of the 25 Best Hip Hop Groups of All-Time, describing them as "Hip hop's first legitimate band."
Band history 
Organix was the band's first album, released and sold independently. It was released in 1993. It generated enough industry buzz for offers from music labels, and the band signed with DGC/Geffen.
Do You Want More?!!!??! 
The Roots' first album for DGC, Do You Want More?!!!??!, was released in 1995. It was a moderate hit among alternative music fans due in part to the group's appearance at Lollapalooza. The band performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival that year. Touring guests, beatboxer Rahzel and producer Scott Storch, joined The Roots.
Illadelph Halflife 
The 1996 release Illadelph Halflife was the group's first album to break the Top 40 on the Billboard 200 chart, spurred in part by MTV's airplay of the video for "What They Do" (a parody of rap video clichés) and "Clones", which was their first single to reach the top five on the rap charts. "What They Do" was also the group's first single to hit the Top 40 of Billboard's charts, reaching a peak of #34. While continuing on the path of live instrumentation, the album's sound was somewhat darker.
Things Fall Apart 
The group released Things Fall Apart in 1999 (named after Things Fall Apart, a novel by Chinua Achebe, which in turn was named after a line from "The Second Coming" by W.B. Yeats). This was their breakthrough album, peaking at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 charts and earning a gold record, signifying U.S. sales of at least 500,000 units. The album was eventually certified platinum in April, 2013. Mos Def contributed to the track entitled "Double Trouble". The track "Act Two" features African-Belgian band Zap Mama and Common. The track "You Got Me", a duet with R&B singer Erykah Badu and Eve and Jill Scott intended by Black Thought for the "unconscious" population, peaked at No. 39 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. At the 42nd Grammy Awards "You Got Me" won the award for Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group and the album was nominated for Best Rap Album.
Steve Huey of the website allmusic perceived "a strong affinity for the neo-soul movement" in the album. First-time cameos on Things Fall Apart for Philadelphia natives Beanie Sigel and Eve helped to earn them major record deals later (with Roc-A-Fella and Ruff Ryders, respectively). After this album, Dice Raw left the collective to record his solo debut album Reclaiming the Dead. In the summer, the band performed at the Woodstock '99 concert in New York state.
Several members, including longtime member Malik B., left the group. In December 2001, The Roots backed Jay-Z for his MTV Unplugged concert. With heightened popularity came mounting pressure. The Roots released Phrenology (named after the pseudoscience of phrenology) in 2002. Despite not charting as high as Things Fall Apart, reaching a peak of No. 28 on the charts, Phrenology was commercially successful, being certified gold, and earning a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album. At the time, however, there came rumors that The Roots were losing interest in their signing with MCA.
During this time, the band backed Jay-Z for his 2003 farewell concert in Madison Square Garden, and appeared in the accompanying Fade to Black concert film.
The Tipping Point 
After Phrenology, Ben Kenney and Scratch both left the group; Kenney joined the rock band Incubus. This culminated with the release of 2004's The Tipping Point, the byproduct of several jam sessions. The album earned two more Grammy nominations: one for Best Urban/Alternative Performance for the track "Star/Pointro" and another for Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group for the track "Don't Say Nuthin'." The Tipping Point peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard album chart. In 2005, Home Grown! The Beginner's Guide To Understanding The Roots, Volumes 1 & 2, a two-disc compilation album, was released. The Roots were among several performers on the 2006 film Dave Chappelle's Block Party, whose event took place on September 18, 2004 and was released on film two years later.
Game Theory 
Game Theory was released August 29, 2006, on Def Jam records. Questlove describes the album as being very dark and reflective of the political state in America. The first single from the album, "Don't Feel Right", appeared on the internet in May 2006, and is available for free download on several websites. The album's first video, titled "The Don't Feel Right Trilogy", premiered on August 21, 2006, and features three songs, "In the Music", "Here I Come" and "Don't Feel Right". It earned an 83 on Metacritic and 2 Grammy Nominations. The late J Dilla is honoured on different occasions throughout the album. Track 1 is credited to be "Supervised by J Dilla". Track 13 "Can't Stop This" is devoted to his persona, the first part being an edited version of a track ("Time: The Donut of the Heart") of his Donuts album, released three days before his death. This version comprises vocals by Black Thought. Secondly, a string of kindred artists reminisce about J Dilla in the form of answering machine messages.
Rising Down 
In the weeks before the album's release, the original first single "Birthday Girl", a radio-friendly collaboration with Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump was removed from the album reportedly because it didn't fit in with the album's tone. It remained as a digital download available from iTunes as a bonus track, as well as on international releases.
Picking up where Game Theory left off, the album maintains a dark and political tone, with Black Thought and several guests venting about the ills of society today. The album's guests include Chrisette Michele, Common, Mos Def, Saigon, Styles P, Talib Kweli, and Wale; it also features Philadelphia artists Dice Raw, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Peedi Crakk, Greg Porn, and Truck North, as well as former member Malik B. Rising Down features The Roots incorporating a more electronic and synth-heavy feel into their sound. Rising Down was released to critical acclaim, garnering an overall score of 80 on Metacritic.
How I Got Over 
How I Got Over reflects the relief the band felt at the end of the Bush administration and the beginning of the Obama presidency. Guests include Blu, Phonte and Patty Crash, whose song "Serve This Royalty" is covered on the album. Rather than relying on samples, the album was recorded live, with covers (including Celestial Blues, featuring the song's original artist, Andy Bey) being reinterpreted by the band. The album was released on June 22, 2010.
Wake Up! 
The Roots collaborated with R&B singer John Legend on the album Wake Up!. The album was released on September 21, 2010, and was publicized two days later with a live concert at Terminal 5 in New York City with John Legend and Jennifer Hudson that was streamed on YouTube. On October 30, 2010 The Roots and John Legend played live at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in Washington, D.C.
Betty Wright: The Movie 
The Roots collaborated with R&B singer Betty Wright on the 2011 album Betty Wright: The Movie, credited to Betty Wright and The Roots. The album, co-produced by Wright and Questlove, was nominated for a 2012 Grammy in the "Best Traditional R&B Performance".
The Roots released their thirteenth album Undun via Def Jam Records on December 6, 2011. The first single "Make My" leaked on October 17, 2011. Undun is telling a story about their semi-fictional character, Redford Stephens. The album gravitates around Redford growing up in an urban landscape struggling with survival. He is forced to juxtapose between the choice of making something of himself or living a life of fast money and crime, and he chooses the life of crime. The album's name is inspired by The Guess Who's song "undun", and the character was named after the Sufjan Stevens song "Redford". The album features artists like Aaron Livingston, Big K.R.I.T., Phonte, Dice Raw, Greg Porn, Truck North, Bilal, and Sufjan Stevens. The band went back to their original "roots", by returning to lyrics revolving around struggle and making something out of nothing.
Upcoming work 
In a July 2012 tweet, Questlove said that the title of The Roots' next album will have the initials &TYSYC and that it is being recorded currently, with a different sound to expect than from Undun. In the November 12, 2012 issue of The New Yorker, Questlove revealed that the album is tentatively named & Then You Shoot Your Cousin...
| ||This section needs additional citations for verification. (March 2009)|
The Roots' original lineup included Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter (MC) and Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson (drums), who were classmates at the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts. As they began to play at school and on the streets, they added bassist Josh "The Rubberband" Abrams, who went on to form the jazz group The Josh Abrams Quartet. They later added another MC Malik Abdul Basit-Smart ("Malik B."), a new bassist, Leonard Nelson Hubbard ("Hub"), and keyboardist Scott Storch. MC Kenyatta "Kid Crumbs" Warren, was a part of the group for their first album, Organix, but did not appear on any later albums. Another MC, Dice Raw, joined on for cameos in later albums. The Roots filled Storch's position with keyboardist, Kamal Gray, who continues to be a member. Kamal Gray has not played with the Roots on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon since April or May 2012. No explanation has been given for his disappearance. On the September 17th, 2012 episode, which was also the 700th Episode, Kamal Gray was back playing with The Roots. This marked his return from several months of absence, but confirms he is still a member of the band.
Beatboxer Rahzel was a member of the group from 1995 to 1999. Alongside Rahzel was vocal turntablist Scratch, who DJ'd for them during live concerts. However, he abruptly left in 2003. Malik B. left the group in 1999 due to drug problems but continued to record, making occasional cameos on future albums. Guitarist Ben Kenney, had a short stint with the group and contributed to their Phrenology album, but left to join Incubus as their bassist. A percussionist, F Knuckles, was added in 2002 and guitarist, Kirk Douglas (a.k.a. "Captain Kirk"), replaced Kenney. Martin Luther, a vocalist, toured with The Roots in 2003 and 2004 and contributed to the Tipping Point album. The group announced in August 2007 that longtime bassist, Leonard Hubbard, was leaving the group. Owen Biddle was the bassist from 2007-2011, followed by Mark Kelley.
The current members of The Roots are Black Thought (MC), Questlove (drums), Frank Knuckles (percussion) (also a former Protégé of Questlove), and Cap'n Kirk (guitar). Recently, they have toured with sousaphonist Damon "Tuba Gooding Jr." Bryson and current bassist Mark Kelley[disambiguation needed]. For their performances on Jimmy Fallon, keyboardist James Poyser contributes additional keyboards.
The band announced on August 25, 2011 that Owen has left the band and will be replaced by Mark Kelley.
Because the band members hail from Philadelphia and its surrounding area, they showed their support for the Phillies during the 2009 World Series against the Yankees, displaying Phillies memorabilia when performing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. On the episode which aired the day after the Yankees clinched the title, Questlove stated "No comment!" on the show's intro (when he usually states the episode number), and had a Yankees logo purposely displayed upside-down on his drumset. In 2010, the group showed support for the Flyers during their run to the Stanley Cup Final by having the team logo on their drumset.
Touring and other work 
The band tours extensively, and their live sets are frequently hailed as the best in the genre. Recently, the band played a concert in NYC's Radio City Music Hall with Common, Nas, Talib Kweli and Big Daddy Kane. They backed Jay-Z a third time, for his Reasonable Doubt Concert, a celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the release of his first album.
In 1994, The Roots appeared on the Red Hot Organization's compilation album, Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool. The album, meant to raise awareness and funds in support of the AIDS epidemic in relation to the African American community, was heralded as "Album of the Year" by Time magazine. They have been highly involved in many other Red Hot Organization productions, including the 1998 album Red Hot + Rhapsody and the 2001 album Red Hot + Indigo, a tribute to Duke Ellington.
The Roots have been featured in four movies: Dave Chappelle's Block Party, both performing album songs and playing as a backing band for other artists; Spike Lee's Bamboozled; Marc Levin's Brooklyn Babylon, in which Black Thought plays the protagonist, Solomon, and former band member Rahzel narrates; and Chasing Liberty, starring Mandy Moore. Black Thought and Questlove were both featured in the movie Brown Sugar. Black Thought made an appearance in the film Love Rome as Tariq Trotter, and Questlove currently appears in the recent documentary movie about TBC Brass Band called From the Mouthpiece on Back, which lists The Roots as one of the executive producers of the movie.
The band guest performed on August 25 and 26 with the Dave Matthews Band during their 2007 summer tour. Members of The Roots played in various forms as well as a whole band on DMB's back to back concerts at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wisconsin. In 2007 the band performed at an NAACP tribute to Bono, covering U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "Pride (In the Name of Love)". Black Thought mixed in lines from the band's own "False Media".
The group hosts a highly anticipated jam session every year the night before the Grammys. The Roots jam session, produced by Okayplayer, Goodtime Girl Entertainment and Keldof, has been attended by everyone from Jay-Z, Beyoncé Knowles and Tom Cruise to Don Cheadle, Jeremy Piven and Prince with impromptu performances from Snoop Dogg and Corrine Bailey Rae to Queen Latifah, Matisyahu, Fall Out Boy and Dave Chappelle.
Billed as The Roots, Questlove, Kirk and Owen made an appearance on The Colbert Report on April 15, 2008 when Stephen Colbert spent a week in Philadelphia prior to the 2008 Pennsylvania Democratic primary. During the appearance, they performed the intro song to the show, and closed the episode with a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.
The Roots are featured on the Men in Black Original Soundtrack (1997) with the song "The Notic" with neo-soul singer D'Angelo. The song "Here I Come" was featured in the movies Superbad and Hancock. "Here I Come" is also featured in many video games including Project Gotham Racing 4. The song "The Seed 2.0" featuring Cody ChesnuTT was featured in the movies Collateral and I Think I Love My Wife, as well as the Without a Trace episode "Candy." The song "Don't Say Nuthin" was featured in the first season episode, "Busey And The Beach" of HBO's Entourage. The song, "Guns Are Drawn", featuring Aaron Livingston, was featured in a season six episode of CBS' Cold Case.
They have performed on the popular kids show Yo Gabba Gabba, performing "Lovely, Love My Family" in 2008.
They also did a secret show while in Kentucky. The group had one of their famous jam sessions at the Oulipo Ballroom in 2009.
In March 2009, The Roots became the new official house band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, with "Here I Come" as the show's theme. The Roots, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, and Taylor Hicks performed Rebecca Black's viral hit "Friday" on the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon show on April Fool's Day, 2011.
The Roots host the Roots Picnic, an annual all-day music festival in Philadelphia, PA, every June.
On Tuesday, November 22, 2011, United States Congresswoman and presidential candidate Michele Bachmann was a guest on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. For her entrance, The Roots controversially played a snippet from Fishbone's 1985 song, "Lying Ass Bitch" resulting in apologies from Jimmy Fallon, The Roots, and NBC.
On Monday, January 2, 2012 they played during the NHL Winter Classic at Citizen's Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA.
Most recently, on October 13, 2012, The Roots appeared at Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL) in Austin, Texas.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (April 2013)|
- Grammy Awards
- 1999: Won for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for "You Got Me" (featuring Erykah Badu and Eve)
- 2002: Nominated for Best Rap Album for Phrenology
- 2004: Nominated for Best Urban/Alternative Performance for "Star"
- 2004: Nominated for Best Rap Performance By a Duo/Group for "Don't Say Nuthin'"
- 2007: Nominated for Best Rap Album for Game Theory
- 2007: Nominated for Best Rap Performance By a Duo/Group for "Don't Feel Right"
- 2011: Won for Best Group or Duo R&B Vocal Performance for Shine
- 2011: Won for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for "Hang on in There" (with John Legend)
- 2011: Won for Best R&B Album for Wake Up!
- 2011: Nominated for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "Wake Up Everybody"
- 2011: Nominated for Best Rap Album for How I Got Over
- 2013: Nominated for Best Rap Album for Undun
- MTV Video Music Awards
- 2003: Nominated for MTV2 award for "The Seed 2.0"
- mtvU Woodie Awards
- 2004: Nominated for Road Woodie and Welcome Back Woodie
- BET Awards
- 2005: Nominated for Best Group
- 2009: Nominated for Best Group
- NAACP Image Awards
- 2005: Nominated for Outstanding Duo or Group
- 2007: Won for Outstanding Duo or Group
- 2011: Won for Outstanding Collaboration for Wake Up!
- 2011: Won for Outstanding Album for Wake Up!
- Named one of the "twenty greatest live acts in the world" by Rolling Stone, 2003
- Won a "Heroes Award" from the Philadelphia chapter of the Recording Academy, 2004
- First Hip-Hop group to perform at Lincoln Center, January 2002
- Won Max Stevenson International Hip-Hop Award for Game Theory album, 2007
Band members 
- Black Thought – MC (1987–present)
- Questlove – Drums (1987–present)
- Kamal Gray – Electronic keyboard (1994–present)
- F. Knuckles – Percussion (2001–present)
- Captain Kirk Douglas – Electric guitar (2003–present)
- Damon "Tuba Gooding Jr." Bryson – Sousaphone (2007–present)
- James Poyser – Electronic keyboard (For Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and occasional performances only)
- Mark Kelley - Bass (2011–present)
- Former members
- Malik B. – MC (1987–1999)
- Kid Crumbs (Kenyatta Warren) – MC (1993)
- Rubberband (Josh Abrams) – Bass (1992)
- Rahzel – Beatbox (1995–2001)
- Dice Raw – MC (1995–2001) (Frequent collaborator with The Roots)
- Scott Storch – keyboards (1993–1995)
- Ben Kenney – guitar/bass (2000–2003)
- Martin Luther – vocals (2003–2004)
- Scratch – Beatbox (1996–2003)
- Leonard Hub Hubbard – Bass (1992–2007)
- Owen Biddle – Bass (2007–2011)
- Studio albums
- 1993: Organix!
- 1995: Do You Want More?!!!??!
- 1996: Illadelph Halflife
- 1999: Things Fall Apart
- 2002: Phrenology
- 2004: The Tipping Point
- 2006: Game Theory
- 2008: Rising Down
- 2010: How I Got Over
- 2011: Undun
- 2013: & Then You Shoot Your Cousin
- Collaborative albums
Track numbering 
A distinctive feature of The Roots albums is the way tracks are numbered. Other than in most other cases, The Roots use a continuous track numbering beginning with their first studio album Organix through all following albums:
- 1-17: Organix
- 18-33: Do You Want More?!!!??!
- 34-53: Illadelph Halflife
- 54-71: Things Fall Apart
- 72-76: The Legendary
- 77-86: The Roots Come Alive
- 87-102: Phrenology
- 103-113: The Tipping Point
- 114-127: Game Theory
- 128-142: Rising Down
- 143-156: How I Got Over
- 157-170: Undun
- Powell, Kevin (October 24, 1996). "Album Review: Illadelph Halflife". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 25, 2010.
- "25 Greatest Hip-Hop Groups - Best Rap Groups of All Time". Rap.about.com. 2013-03-01. Retrieved 2013-04-17.
- Bush, John (2008). "The Roots – Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
- "Roots Take A Swing At Video Cliches". MTV News. 7 January 1997. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
- "Gold and Platinum – The Roots". RIAA. Retrieved 2009-03-04.
- "The Roots Send Wake-Up Call To "Unconscious" Population". MTV News. 23 February 1999. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
- "Santana, Aguilera, The Roots Ponder Grammy Honors". MTV News. 24 February 2000. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
- "42nd Annual Grammy Awards nominations". CNN. 4 January 2000. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
- Huey, Steve (1999). "Things Fall Apart > Overview". allmusic. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
- "Elvis Costello, Roots, Megadeth, Others Added To Woodstock Lineup". MTV News. 12 July 1999. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
- Reid, Shaheem (17 December 2001). "Roots' Questlove Gives Backstage Access To Jay-Z Unplugged". MTV News. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
- "For The Record: Quick News On Incubus, P. Diddy, Liv Tyler, John Mayer, Johnny Cash, David Lee Roth & More". MTV News. 4 April 2003. Retrieved 2009-03-15.
- "Grammy Award nominees in top categories". Associated Press. 7 December 2004. Retrieved 2009-03-15.
- Patel, Joseph (7 September 2004). "Chappelle Throwing A Block Party With Kanye, Lauryn, Others". MTV News. Retrieved 2009-03-15.
- Reid, Shaheem (1 March 2006). "Dave Chappelle Says New Movie Will 'Let The Healing Begin'". MTV News. Retrieved 2009-03-15.
- "Questlove Game Theory Interview". Retrieved July 17, 2006.
- Brown, Marisa (29 April 2008). "Rising Down > Overview". allmusic. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
- "Exclusive Hip Hop News, Audio, Lyrics, Videos, Honeys, Wear, Sneakers, Download Mixtapes". Hiphopgame.com. Retrieved 2011-07-03.
- by gingerlynn on June 25, 2009 (25 June 2009). "Video: The Roots Perform NEW Single “How I Got Over” on Fallon « Okayplayer". Okayplayer.com. Retrieved 2011-07-03.
- Horowitz, Steven J. (7 October 2011). "The Roots Announce Release Date For First-Ever Concept Album "UNDUN" | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales". HipHop DX. Retrieved 2012-02-08.
- "?uestlove Explains How SPIN and Sufjan Inspired the Roots' 'undun'". SPIN.com. 1 November 2011. Retrieved 2012-02-08.
- Saeger, John (2013-01-22). "Roots Announce Album With Elvis Costello, Set Lineup For 2013 Roots Picnic". Long After Dark. Retrieved 2013-04-17.
- "Mark Kelley Joins The Roots, Farewell To Owen Biddle". Okayplayer. 2011-08-30. Retrieved 2013-04-17.
- "Bass player Owen Biddle leaves The Roots, Mark Kelley joins the band | Philadelphia Inquirer | August 25, 2011". Philly.com.
- "The Roots – Hip hop's best live act". The List.
- "Song of the Day: The Roots, “Sunday Bloody Sunday / Pride (In the Name of Love)” (U2 cover) » Cover Me". Covermesongs.com. Retrieved 2011-07-03.
- Horowitz, Steven J. (2013-01-23). "The Roots Announce Collaborative Album With Elvis Costello, Reveal New LP Title | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales". HipHop DX. Retrieved 2013-04-17.
- "The Numbered Tracks". TheRootsArchive.com. Retrieved 2013-04-17.
- The Roots' official website
- The Roots at Allmusic
- Retrospective of The Roots @ DefJam