A few weeks ago, anybody who knew of The Roots would think they had a pretty clear career path going. One of the few near-universally respected musical entites, The Roots could happily spend the rest of their days backing up big-name artists, playing expansive and adventurous shows, and putting out albums totally unencumbered by commercial expectations. They’d pulled off one of the hardest tricks in the cultural book–achieving auteur status–which meant that they could do anything they want as long, as it seemed in line with their overall aesthetic. Their idiosyncrasies and vision would continue to be rewarded as long as their fans lived. So why in the world have they allegedly decided to be the house band for Jimmy “What Fourth Wall?” Fallon?
There’s always the “they drove a dump truck full of money up to ?uestlove’s house” possibility, though it’s likely the band made a more than comfortable living already. The more likely explanation is suggested by the Roots’ simultaneous retirement from touring. As any entertainer who’s gone to Vegas can tell you, playing shows is great, but being on the road sucks. The band isn’t going to stop making albums, presumably, but the actual process of traveling from place to place is unpleasant. If there’s any way to avoid that while still making money, it’s understandable that any working musician would jump at that chance–especially when a slot on a late-night show seems to set you up for life.