November 16, 1996 |
Hip-hop is a music of the studio. Even veteran rappers who sound wonderful on disc can be lost in a live setting. For Illadelphia's own Roots, which performed at the Middle East on Thursday night, that's not a problem. The band played live in every sense of the word. Rapper Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter declaimed and proclaimed, interacting in an organic, spontaneous manner with keyboards, bass and drums. The group often changed thoughts in mid-sentence, kicking on and off in an unpredictable manner, changing moods and tempos and structuring its tunes like mini-jazz suites.
November 10, 2003 |
Matching Rahzel, the Roots' human-beat-box pal, with Sizzla and a dozen dance hall-reggae toasters, crooners, and DJs, Jamaican Dave Productions sold out the Electric Factory on Saturday with a punky reggae party that lasted past 2 a.m. Whether they performed in front of turntables (a sweetly singing El Feco) or the raging Firehouse Band (the equally elegant Lukie D, the crazed crooning and high-stepping of Turbulence), the reggae roster was passionate and played to the crowd. Sandwiched between the dance hallers, Rahzel took audience interplay to a comic level as he chatted up the house when not pumping out beat-box grooves and goofs.
September 25, 1996 |
The first major release of the post-Tupac Shakur era in rap arrives this week from Philadelphia's The Roots, and while it doesn't sacrifice a smidgen of street-level intensity, it reaffirms just how far-reaching (and how far removed from the gangsta stereotype) hip-hop can be. Illadelph Halflife (DGC . 1/2) is the third album overall and second major-label release for The Roots, the sextet that includes lead rapper Black Thought (Tariq Trotter), fellow emcee Malik B. (Malik Abdul-Basit)
March 15, 1995 |
At the Theater of Living Arts on Tuesday night, the Roots put on a hip-hop clinic. Just down South Street from where the "100 percent live hip-hop jazz" band once played for coins on the corner, the Roots came home with a major label album under their belt, Do You Want More?!!!??! (DGC), and a whole lot of wisdom to impart. The Roots take their name seriously. They break down hip-hop into its raw, essential components - bass lines, beats, vocals - and they play it live, with the fluidity and intuitiveness of jazzmen, hooked on improvisation.
August 14, 2006 |
Gnarls Barkley, the collaboration between producer Danger Mouse (Brian Burton) and rapper/singer Cee-Lo (Thomas Callaway), revels in contradictions and juxtapositions. St. Elsewhere, their debut, cloaks songs about insanity, suicide, and necrophilia in summery and joyful hip-hop. Cee-Lo's vocals cross the contemporary Dirty South with archetypal southern soul; the former member of Atlanta's Goodie Mob knows his OutKast as well as his Al Green. Danger Mouse, the iconoclast who once remixed Jay-Z's The Black Album to samples from The Beatles [White Album]
September 22, 2012 |
The voices of Philadelphia - talking, reading, screeching, opining, proposing, promoting, warbling, singing, bleating - erupted Thursday night in Open Air , an unlikely canopy of 24 intersecting searchlight beams over the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, visible from 10 miles away. Crunched through the digital and robotic web of the Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, the Philly vocals - recorded over a website and iPhone app, and performed live by ex-Roots beatboxer Rahzel and four-octave singer David Moss to kick off the three-week-long event - made their long-awaited debut with the shifting light formations.
January 3, 2005 |
The Roots are a bunch of show-offs. But who can blame them? Rap band, rock band, funk band, soul band, jazz band, jam band - Philly's finest transmogrifies into whatever beast it wants to be at any given moment. And Friday's sold-out show at the Electric Factory allowed the seven-piece outfit (augmented by the three-man Fatback Taffy horns) to strut its stuff like a Mummers' Fancy Brigade in full plumage. With Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter as rhyme-slinging ringmaster and big-haired drummer Ahmir "?
October 1, 1999 |
Prince Paul made his name first with the funky-fresh 1980s rap band Stetsasonic and then as producer of De La Soul's 3 Feet High and Rising, the trippy daisy-age platter that broadened the horizons of hip-hop in 1989. Paul hasn't kept a high profile this decade, but 1999 has been a bust-out year for the visionary producer. First, there was A Prince Among Thieves (Tommy Boy), the hip-hopera that used guest appearances by the likes of Kool Keith, Everlast, Big Daddy Kane and Chris Rock to tell a street-savvy morality tale, among others.
July 1, 2000 |
It's an all-you-can-listen-to buffet. For music gluttons, using Napster to search for MP3 files on the Internet is like having a free pass to pick from a virtually limitless aural smorgasbord - and to go back for seconds, thirds and fourths. Your plate may be piled high - you may have already pigged out on Moby, Blackalicious and DJ Shadow, tasted the new Eminem and Britney Spears, and sampled a soupcon of Beth Orton and Sonny Rollins. But surely there's room left for that Neil Young-with-Pearl Jam take on Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released.