By 2010 Hip-Hop had been mangled and misused in the mainstream beyond recognition. Sex, drugs and gangbanging…pop rap. Luckily, that year The Roots released their ninth studio album, “How I Got Over“. Originally set to be released in February, it was initially pushed back to June 8th. The album was finally released June 22, 2010.
With more of a smooth jazz ambience, potent lyrics, and soulful crooning; you can imagine “How I Got Over” at home in Greenwich village during the early 60’s. More importantly for the ninth time, they captured the essence of true hip-hop in an ever changing environment while staying true to their…roots.
I remember racing to the mall after work to get my ninth Roots album the day the album came out. Locked and loaded with a pack of Dutch Masters, my roommate and I proceeded to fill the car with smoke and the velvety sounds of veteran musicians.
Music. Real Music poured through the speakers. Music that you made you think and reflect, the way true Hip-Hop does. By the sixth track, I was lulled into a peaceful trance. Elated that after 17 years The Roots can still make relevant music without trying to keep up with the new generations fad.
BAM! How I Got Over sent a lightning bolt to the right side of my brain. Immediately, my imaginary B-Boy friend that roams my head in cases such as these was alive and ever so well. Top rocking over Dice Raws chorus,
Out on the streets, where I grew up
First thing they teach us is not to give a fuck
That type of thinking can get you nowhere
Someone has to care
(Not quite the glorification you see in today’s pop-rap.)
Transition to a filthy six step over Black Thought’s soulful singing, as he argues against the glamorous street life touted by so many artists at that time and even now,
Out here in these streets, if you get down on your luck
You can stand out, with a hand out but nobody give a fuck
Out here in these streets, every man is for himself
They aint’ helping no one else, it’s a hazard to your health
Not just a sick break beat, this song, and album provides us with exemplary musicianship, poetry and an authentic feel that transcends a single genre. Money and fame is a fickle mistress in the mainstream, but true artists stand the test of time.
How I Got Over is an album that provides us with social commentary that resonates even in today’s tumultuous climate. As the next generation looks to the old school to rejuvenate a lost culture, dig up The Roots and ask how they got over.