"We created some of these characters that we kind of see," Roots rapper Black Thought told XXL magazine in February. "We as artists, musicians, Philadelphians, New Yorkers, we as black men."
Other band members are keyboardist Kamal Grey, guitarist "Captain" Kirk Douglas, bassist Mark Kelley and Damon Bryson, a/k/a "Tuba Gooding Jr.," who can be seen playing the sousaphone along with the rest of the Roots on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon."
On the song "The Unraveling," one of the album's featured guests, Raheem DeVaughn, repeats the refrain, "A man with no future . . . ," falling in line with the ominous nature of the lyrics in previous tracks.
Between songs, sounds of church hymns and synthesized dissonance reinforce a religious quandary that's first introduced in "When the People Cheer." In the chorus, featured vocalist Patty Crash sings, "Everybody acts like God is all that/but I got the feeling he ain't never coming back."
In the XXL interview, Black Thought recommended listening to the album a few times to unearth some of the nuances that may not jump out at first.
"It's short enough to digest, but it's gonna be dense," he said. "There's very many layers to this record, but it doesn't take place over very much time."
". . . And Then You Shoot Your Cousin" is experimental by all modern hip-hop standards and has been received fairly well by critics. Most reviewers have given it three to four stars out of five.
Early yesterday morning, Questlove posted a picture of iTunes' top 10 albums on his Instagram account, with " . . . And Then You Shoot Your Cousin" sitting at No. 1.
"Talk about a miracle little train that could moment," he wrote in the caption. "I don't think any of our records were ever in the number one position on iTunes."