The Roots: Black Thought, Malik B, Leonard Nelson Hubbard, Kamal, Shou-Out, Rahze.
Additional personnel: Ursula Rucker (spoken vocals); Anthony Tidd, Warren Wimbly, Spanky (guitar); Igor Szwec, Emma Kumrow (violin); David Garnet, Larry Gold, Deidra Murry (viola); D'Angelo, Scott Storch, James Poyser (keyboards); Bob Powers (synthesizer); Shawn Gee (hand claps); DJ Jazzy Jeff (DJ); The Jazzy Fatnastees, Lady B, Dice Raw, Eve Of Destruction, Mos Def, Common, Marie Daulne, Beenie Siegal, Erykah Badu (background vocals).
Producers: The Grand Wizzards, Chaos, Scott Storch, James Poyser.
Engineers include: Keith Cramer, Axel Niehaus, Kelo.
“You Got Me” won the 2000 Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance By Duo Or Group. THINGS FALL APART was nominated for the 2000 Grammy Award for Best Rap Album.
Hip-hop is about presence. Whether party- or street-oriented, it tends to keeps its listeners firmly centered in their own skin: hands in the air, guard your grill, watch your back. In spite of the blunted ethos of the late ‘90s and the emergence of trip-hop, it’s a rare hip-hop record that causes your eyes to go out of focus and your brain to operate freely in that space that makes us describe music as “deep.”
THINGS FALL APART achieves that distinct sort of transcendence perhaps because it is not trying to save, reinvigorate, or resurrect the artform. As the title (taken from Chinua Achebe's novel on the loss of traditional African culture during colonization) suggests, the record takes the death of hip-hop as its starting point. Where earlier Roots albums captured the live feeling of the open mic/jam sessions for which they are now internationally famous, TFA adds a newer wrinkle of arrangement and studio mastery. The layers and echoes occasionally (as on “100% Dundee”) give you the sensation that you're wandering through one of those jam sessions in a detached, even feverish state–a perfect snapshot of hip-hop on the eve of the millennium.
What the critics say…
Rolling Stone (3/4/99, pp.81–82) – 4 Stars (out of 5) – “…The
hip-hop vanguard that's ignoring trends – musical, lyrical, sartorial –
and experimenting, forging ahead, creating new directions…combining kinetic
street energy with fresh, artful musical ideas…”
Spin (p.102) – “An album as badass as the live show.”
Entertainment Weekly (2/19–2/26/99, p.140) – “…this straight outta-Illadellph septet maintain a high standard of verbal one-upmanship and lyrical inventiveness, spinning out trenchant inner-city dispatches with righteous fury, while the band's judicious Fender Rhodes tinkling and jazzbo fingerpicking help stoke the album's quiet storms…” – Rating: B
Q (5/99, p.114) – 4 Stars (out of 5) – “…amidst bubbling bass, jazz guitar licks and snare splats he [main rapper, Black Thought] celebrates original hip-hop virtues without surrendering to nostalgia…”
Alternative Press (6/99, p.108) – 4 (out of 5) – “…the Roots fuse melodic choruses and rap verses into rich, fully-realized grooves…”
Mixmag (2/99, p.105) – 4 out of 5 – “…[The Roots] strike gold with their weighty and serious third effort…there's no doubt it's all poetry.”
Muzik (1/00, p.69) – Ranked #12 in Muzik's “Albums Of The Year ‘99”
Muzik (1/00, p.69) – “…their most accomplished album…mixing their trademark human beatbox, live instrumentation and smoothly flowing patter with a gorgeous guest appearance from Erykah Badu.”
CMJ (1/10/00, p.4) – Ranked #9 in CMJ’s “Top 30 Editorial Picks [for 1999].”
CMJ (1/25/99, p.5) – “…the Roots represent one of the few hip-hop units that genuinely raise the quality level of the genre…from throat-grabbin' raps to silky-smooth sing-a-longs, leaving cliches at the door while pumping in brand new, heavy doses of groove…”
Vibe (3/99, p.162) – “…the Roots have finally perfected their sound…The Roots have reconfigured the pyramid again, placing themselves at the top…”
The Source (2/00, p.95) – Included in The Source's “Top 10 Albums of the Year .”
The Source (3/99, p.194) – 4 Mics (out of 5) – “…THINGS FALL APART is the desolate Mad Max-ish soundscape of the post-Armageddon New World…the product of a group who has opened its eyes, and found that the second coming has already arrived in the form of social ills and artistic stagnation…”
Rap Pages (3/99, p.141) – 4 (out of 5) – “…This minimalist approach is a new avenue for the crew, but one they maneuver with ease, ever careful not to tread lightly and feign a noncommittal stance…”
Urban Latino (4/99, p.75) – 4 out of 4 – “…The Roots are not only the last Hip Hop ‘band’; they are Hip Hop apostles whose love for the art form compels them to push it further musically and lyrically…”
Mojo (Publisher) (5/99, p.108) – “…the stunner they've always promised: the first candidate for hip hop album of 1999…in a hip-hop world dominated by well-worn pop samples and rap rewrites of 80's chart hits, such risk-taking should be cherished…”
- Act Won (Things Fall Apart)
- Table Of Contents (Parts 1 & 2)
- Next Movement, The
- Step Into The Relm
- Spark, The
- Without A Doubt
- Ain't Sayin' Nothin' New
- Double Trouble
- Act Too (The Love Of My Life)
- 100% Dundee
- Diedre Vs. Dice
- 3rd Acts: - Vs. Scratch 2...Electric Boogaloo
- You Got Me - (with Erykah Badu)
- Don't See Us
- Return To Innocence Lost, The
- (untitled) - (hidden track)
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