THE ROOTS – …AND THEN YOU SHOOT YOUR COUSIN Review

By SUNEZ

THE ROOTS – …AND THEN YOU SHOOT YOUR COUSIN ReviewCompartmentalize it. Forget the face, credit card swipe…you know what to lace.  I’m a Hip Hop nigga today, a savage for the best of the track.  My eager ears walk up to them high heeled high hats and long legged snares and plump basslined fatties all in my visions.  Original shades of all chops ready with the mic check 1,2 lips of lusciously sung loops where Black twirled locks of piano chords lace and long, dark Indigenous tresses swirl to fall on the most gorgeous, fullest breasts of breaks you ever seen on a vinyl of a woman. Whooo-Wah! Tits! Truth Is That Simple…

…If only I was just a nigga, one of them scarred spic brown clowns drowning in blackened water with white hope dreams.  Vile visions that fester through yellowed teeth chipped from the savage cheese capers.  It ain’t that simple cuz on the body goes the mind and I off the swine so the line of the rhyme determines the time I stay in the sublime…

…cuz then you forget the one of the greatest minds of Black Thought rhymes in the band, an MC that we may never see perform Hip Hop bar marathons so purely.  Cuz then you may continue with a band that plays at a supreme level but won’t just let their Coltrane verse an LP of a 70 minute solo.  And Then You Shoot Your Cousin as an LP with all the techniques of masters who hide the sage in the bars in an EP-length LP of insufficient supremacy.

The Roots is the legendary live Hip Hop performance group and their LPs have a focus and precision of execution that is unparalleled.  However, since 2006’s Game Theory they have steadily decreased the mic time of the legendary Black Thought and emphasized a loop score that is Rock based Funk.  That Rock-based Funk really equates to a qualitative sound but one that lacks the edge of Black rawness.  Albums as 2008’s Rising Down, How I Got Over of 2010 and 2011’s Undun often bang as suburban Hard rock coolness and not the wild, yet refined, concrete Philly funk that 1995’s Do You Want More?!!??! introduced, 1996’s Illadelph Halflife classically mastered and 1999’s Things Fall Apart pop peaked with. 

THE ROOTS – …AND THEN YOU SHOOT YOUR COUSIN ReviewOne of the flaws in the entire Roots live band justification at the beginning of their career was that Hip Hop is about the music we hear primarily.  However, that ain’t what the music is at its most profound.  The breakbeat becomes a nourishing element of milk for a baby that has not had the chance to speak.  And we grew up on them nutrients rhyming fun, fun funk to the rugged depth it became.  It really is a forum for that MC, their ideas, stories and insights on our reality.  And no matter how gifted ?uestlove is in unifying themes into album portraits the Roots are legends when Black Thought’s verses reach infinite levels.  Instead, over the years, the Black Thought bars have been reduced, replaced and now, the entire album length is shortened to a sitcom’s length.  This impairs the illness of an MC whose drama is portrayed on thousands of live stages and some popular night time variety show now.

Musically, The Roots highlight another flaw in such a short work by the immediate playing of Nina Simone, Mary Lou Williams and Michael Chion crate clips.  These crates are supposed to sampled, looped, chopped and made into gorgeous women for Black Thought to slide through.  The LP’s mood is set by their use but the depth is not.  To then have Mercedes Martinez, who gorgeously songbirds “The Coming” and Raheem DeVaughn sequenced to sing throughout the last two of four tracks (40% of the LP time) turns the hard verses of snapshot gutterness Black Thought, Dice Raw and Greg Porn were developing into a blues selfie yearning.  Still, the original music is never bad; rather, it actually is at its best with the Martinez as the bridge descends into chaos and she vibrates back in to remind us “she’s seen it all.”   As expected the arrangements are all ill timed, as the resetting drums on “The Dark,” the thick bassdrums and cymbal crashes on “When People Cheer,” the nightmare funnel the break pops through on “Never,”  the live smooth stabbing piano on “Tomorrow” or the Blues twanged guitars on “Black Rock.”  It all proves the music has the capability to dive back into the Black Soul. 

THE ROOTS – …AND THEN YOU SHOOT YOUR COUSIN ReviewNow without sampling crates but clipping them, they also clip the forums for Black Thought, who only has six verses on the album.  Black Thought’s “When the People Cheer” verse is a highlight of the amazing character paintings ever put on wax (“Looking for a shorty coming from work, that I can pervert/On my existential grind doing consequential dirt/Searchin’ for physical pleasure if I don’t go mental first). His incredible overload of double entendres on “Never” is pure poetry (“Life is a bitch and then you live/Until one day by death you’re found/I tried to keep both of my feet on the ground/But I know my head is surrounded by clouds/Spirallin’ down, destined to drown/Forever is just a collection of nows/Off on my own, nowhere is my home/Approaching infinity’s fork in the road/When I was young something I often was told/It’s not a bargain if it costs you your soul/Costs you your pride, caution aside/I’m gone with the wind and along for the ride…”) while his cleverness and wordplay edutains insights into savagery as on “Black Rock” (“Mumbo Jumbo niggas onomatopoeian/Call it how I see them, ain’t no rhyme or reason/I’m on some different bullshit everyday just like per diem… Just a question never answered out here looking for its end”) and “Understand” (“Lost between sips of liquor that be bottled in my hands/It was a shot away but I never got away/Dreamed a little dream of me but that was an anomaly…”). Black Thought’s lyricism after two decades of LP work is at a new prime and these six verses are proof.    The few remaining shots by Greg Porn and Dice Raw are some of the strongest verses they have laid out in their careers and deserved more as well.

THE ROOTS – …AND THEN YOU SHOOT YOUR COUSIN ReviewAnd so what type of woman you need when the one you have can give it all and only shares some?  Some may shoot their cousin never hearing the jewels but a lot of these savages just marry their distant cousins embracing the lesser that works.  With LPs all over, able to be Earth material to the God’s ears, we need that woman not just to expose the savagery of the world brilliantly as they do here, but lets have a real long player that lets us listen to her music deeply and explore the mind of Black Thought.  Pause. Rewind…