The Roots, How I Got Over
Looking cautiously from the high-rise
How I Got Over‘s title track begins with a determined drum-and-bongo shuffle, ideal for navigating grocery store aisles, city traffic or even a flooding inbox. But then the Roots plunge into what they’re actually thinking: “We’re so young and all alone/ We ain’t even old enough to realize we’re on our own.” The Roots are still looking out cautiously from the high-rise — getting their hopes up, albeit cautiously, as they watched Barack Obama’s popularity rise in the polls. In its Monsters of Folk revamp “Dear God 2.0,” the Roots step back as Yim Yames’s voice breaks and wavers, only for ?uestlove and Black Thought to forcefully repair his resigned prayer. Radio frequencies land scuff up keyboard notes that peek out from beneath Phonte’s distressed proclamation, “I gotta get my shit together/ it’s now or never,” Even “The Fire” breaks the illuminating John Legend’s belting into a series of staggered calls, sounding like protest chants hollered through a megaphone. In a heartbreaking turn, Black Thought confesses how much he’s cried even on his best days. He’s never sounded so openly resigned.