Album Review: The Roots -"Undun"
Since Undun is a concept album, it’s difficult to break it down and analyze it for its individual parts (it should really be experienced in full). However, it shines from both a musical and lyrical standpoint from start to finish. It might not quite reach the levels that Phrenology or Game Theory did, but it still stands strong next the group’s best work to date.
Lyrically, the album is dark and gritty, but in an honest and intellectual manner. None of that should come as a surprise to anyone at all familiar with The Roots. Black Thought, the group’s front man MC, is sharp and poignant as ever. The album also makes excellent use of its guest features, which are supplied by some of the best doing it right now, including Big K.R.I.T. and Phonte. The hooks are all on point and make for a great supplement to the largely gloomy wordplay displayed on each of the verses.
Production wise (or should I say Musically?), the album truly transcends the idea of genre completely, which could be said for much of The Roots work. As one of the few hip-hop acts that rely completely on actual instruments in their music, they stay completely faithful to their signature style. Questlove continues to provide some of the best drum work you’ll find, and Kamal Gray is excellent on the keys. From the funkesque “Kool On” to the eighties pop inspired “Lighthouse”, the instrumentation on this one is some of the best you’ll find on any hip-hop album in recent memory.Overall, Undun, lives up to its premise. It’s an intellectual and thoughtful concept album by one of the most versatile and talented hip-hop groups of all time. While it’s by no means the best work The Roots have to offer, it’s something that anyone who considers them a die-hard hip-hop fan (or fan of music in general) should check out.
6 Out Of 10