The Roots - Things Fall Apart 
Music Disc Reviews Audio CD
Written by Jason Karsh   
Tuesday, 23 February 1999

The Roots

Things Fall Apart
label: MCA Records
release year:  
performance: 8.5
sound 8
reviewed by: Jason Karsh

As someone who has often complained about The Roots just not ‘being my thing,’ I will be the first to admit this album has the virtual ability to give sight to the blind. ‘Things Fall Apart’ is easily the most impressive rap release of the young year, and it could be argued that it is the most interesting in over a year. Known for their use of live instruments and head-heavy lyrics, The Roots can often be found holding up the walls of both experimentation and rap’s consciousness at the same time. While this must get tiresome, especially since they have to go at it almost alone, and even though a general lack of appreciation for what they do exists, hopefully The Roots will, as the saying goes, keep on keepin’ on.

There are remarkable tracks laced throughout this album, including one that finally proves Erykah Badu was born to be a back-up singer. Also, unlike some of their previous albums, ‘Things’ is perfectly balanced with an organic texture, sparse instrumentation and an absence of over-production. Still, as minimalist as the production can seem, the recording quality here doesn’t suffer in the areas many rap albums do. It’s sound is clear and mostly crisp. However, even though this record will not disappoint on a high-end system, the reason to buy it lies less in the sonics and more in the meaning and message The Roots convey. Groups such as The Roots, Goodie Mob, rappers such as Common (who appears on this album) are a few in a small, newer unit of rappers intent on returning rap to its essence while infusing it with a generous amount of substance. This is something that will get our recommendation every time.

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