When I first started this 'project' -- which is exactly what it has become -- three months ago, I mentioned that I initially couldn't think of many albums that I had that came out in 2008. There was one album, though, that immediately came to my mind: "Rising Down" by The Roots.
I'd be so full of cred if I could honestly say that I had been anticipating this album for a long time, and that I had been thirsting for new Roots music since the release of "Game Theory" in 2006. Truth is, though, a song from this album is what convinced me to start a friendship with ?uestlove and Black Thought. I had heard a little bit of them, mostly just clips on VH1 specials about hip-hop, and didn't quite 'get it'. So, they play their own beats and have a drummer with a nice hairdo. Good for them.
A few months before Rising Down was released, a friend of mine connected me to a video of 'Get Busy' on Youtube, and I was hooked. I must have watched it five or six times in a row. I immediately confessed my sins and asked him how to start my repentence process. I was directed towards "Things Fall Apart", and before long, I was born again. I had accepted The Roots as my hip-hop savior. I now had faith, and purchasing Rising Down only a few days after it fell showed that I also had the works (hip-hop without Roots is dead).
Besides ?uestlove's drumming, one of the great things about a Roots album is the frequent presence of three of the world's best: Mos Def, Talib Kweli and Common. Their appearances often overshadow that The Roots have one of the best rappers alive in Black Thought. ?uestlove being the face of The Roots and Mos Def, Kweli and Common (along with others like Wale and Dice Raw) lending their voices unfortunately pushes Black Thought to the background. He has to be the most underrated rapper on earth. Just watch the clip on the blog below this one of The Roots and Public Enemy performing 'Bring The Noise', and you'll see that he deserves as much proper respect as any other rapper.
'Get Busy' is my favorite track, but 'I Can't Help It' provides my favorite verse of the album. I believe it is spat by the unfortunately-named rapper, Porn, who makes a few solid contributions to "Rising Down". His verse in 'I Can't Help It' goes:
I never said I'm ready to die, but I accept it
Never said I'm ready for war, but I'm protected
I don't even know when it's comin', but I expect it
Lost all semblance of hope, so now I'm left with
Nervous conditions, addictions, in addition
to vixens that mixed in with the wrong crowd
My life is on a flight that's goin' down
My mother had an abortion for the wrong child
With the time I felt love, that's gone now
Been replaced by purple rains and some storm clouds
Misery love misery
So why make friends? Let's make some enemies
And now I got a habit that wasn't meant for me
Now I'm in a marriage that wasn't meant to be
One more reason to change identity
The cars, the crime, K's, penalties
I first fell for this verse early in the morning on my birthday last year as I was driving to meet up with Lisa. I had to keep rewinding it and replaying just this part. It is so incredible. But don't take my word for it....