The Roots have continued on their experimental path, making another concept album with more characters in the plot than 2011’s Undun. This time around, The Roots have a more negative theme, as it’s more of a satire with the basic idea that people looking to help themselves can’t help each other. After Undun, it’s tough to imagine getting more negative than the concept of death, but The Roots have taken us there with And Then You Shoot Your Cousin. The album also kind of mocks how gangsta/thug/trap rappers tend to glorify poverty, like how Dice Raw raps with a joking tone on “Black Rock”: “…and what’s for dinner? Nothing, ni**a!”. The Roots stay in this negative theme for the entire album, with songs about poverty, struggle, and death. The only exception is the closing song, “Tomorrow”, which has a more thankful theme to it.
The Roots have taken a further step away from the traditional hip-hop sound with this album. They’ve gotten more musical, with more of a focus on strings, piano, and actual sung vocals than rapping. Black Thought shares rapping duties with Dice Raw and Greg Porn on this album, and while it’s all excellent, it tends to take a backseat to the actual music. Some songs have no rapping at all and are fully sung by guest artists like Raheem Devaughn and Mercedes Martinez. While hip-hop acts moving away from hip-hop don’t always sound good, The Roots are able to pull it off well due to their strong musical background, and their ability to make the music they want to make without any label pressure.
Listening to this album will take you through all the struggles people go through before reminding you to be thankful for where you are in life. It’s a solid album with great rapping and musical sections (the end of “The Dark” reminded me of The Beatles’ “A Day In The Life”), but you need to be in a certain mood to get all the way through it. This is probably why it’s such a short album, clocking in at just over half an hour. I personally would’ve liked to see more rapping from Black Thought, as he seems more like a guest feature on his own album, but I understand The Roots’ vision for this album.
My Grade: B
Remember to check back here tomorrow to see which album came in at #17 in the countdown!