2014 marks the both the 15 anniversary of one of The Roots’ seminal and beloved albums Things Fall Apart (best known for the Grammy Award single “You Got Me”) and the release of a new full-length album …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin. Much like undun, and their collaboration with the legendary Elvis Costello Wise Up Ghost, …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin continues the band’s recent and relentless experimentation in their sound, as well as experimenting with increasingly complex, challenging themes – while managing to be accessible and down in the streets. In terms of contemporary mainstream hip-hop, what the Roots are trying to do is absolutely revolutionary.
In a series of recent interviews, Black Thought has mentioned that the new album is a concept album that satirizes and analyzes the stereotypes within the hip-hop community and in the larger community. Unlike undun which focused on one the exploits of one character, the new album introduces a cast of characters based around people that the band has known throughout their lives as musicians, Philadelphians, New Yorkers and perhaps more importantly as black men. It invites thoughts on what it means to a Black man of the hip-hop generation, and more.
The band, which is also the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon house band performed “Never” with DJ A-Trak, the Metropolis String Quartet and the vocals of Patty Crash. The song is haunting, spectral song that captures the fractured consciousness and thoughts of its narrator – and although hushed, the song manages to coney an anxious, uncertainty.