The Roots Live
US hip hop group bring soul, funk and the party to Somerset House
Philadelphia rap group The Roots are not only well respected but also well connected. Theyve performed as Jay-Zs backing band recreating his producers work live.
Drummer ?uestlove has worked with Common and Al Green, while fellow founding member Black Thought has rapped on Damian Marley and Talib Kweli tracks.
Its the duo who kicked off this rare UK gig with a 10 minute beats and rhymes introduction. The superb lyricist Black Thought hardly took a breath during the rap workout.
The other members of The Roots came on and all proved their amazing musicianship. Uber-cool bassist Hub played his own long (but never boring) solo with his trademark cigarette in mouth.
Guitarist and vocalist Captain Kirk Douglas, presumably not the name on his birth certificate, had his own chance to show off on Bob Dylan cover Masters Of War. Dedicated to Blair and Bush the socially conscious group turned the track psychedelic with ?uestlove showing off his drum skills on a lengthy solo.
The groups biggest hit The Seed 2.0- performed at breakneck speed- got the live crowd going as did James Browns Soul Power.
By far the best part of this way above average rap gig was when the seven-piece ran through other peoples classics. Talib Kweli, Salt n Pepa, Snoop, Afrika Bambaata and even Chamilionaire all got The Roots treatment.
Nass recent Hip Hop Is Dead which samples In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida is also given a rework with the words changed to Hip Hop Is Alive. If more aspiring rappers take cues from these guys rather than 50 Cent et al, the genre will stay that way for a while yet.