Ready To Feel Old?: “Things Fall Apart” Turns Ten

Feb 25th, 2009 // 10 Comments

Things Fall Apart, the Roots album that bumped the Philadelphia band from hip-hop underdogs to the favorite rap group of thousands of white kids (this one included, for awhile), celebrated its 10th anniversary on Monday. With the band being installed as the house musicians for Late Night With Jimmy Fallon next week, I’d like to take a moment and remember how shockingly great the album sounded on first listen (on the way home from the local Circuit City), with its live rhythm section and Rahzel doing whatever he does and an all-star team of underground rap on nearly every track.

Since then, it feels like the personnel changes and the everyday challenges of making music in this business have changed the group a bit, and their performance at Coachella in 2007 just didn’t feel quite right. I guess touring as often as they have get to a band after awhile. (Plus, I just don’t know if I’m a big sousaphone fan.) Still, man, it’s hard to not like Things Fall Apart, an album that seems relentless at times, with energetic track after track. It’ll be strange to see them fall into the Doc Severinsen and the NBC Orchestra role, but I can’t fault guys for getting paid, and maybe the net result will be a good one.

A few tracks from Things Fall Apart:

“100% Dundee”:

“The Next Movement”:

“You Got Me”:

The Roots [Official site]

  1. T'Challa

    Wait, what? This album has been out for TEN years? OK Dan, you got me: I feel downright geriatric. Damn.

  2. T'Challa

    Wait, what? This album has been out for TEN years? OK Dan, you got me: I feel downright geriatric. Damn.

  3. Cam/ron

    I saw them open for Rage Against the Machine in Sacramento back in ’97 and they were just awesome (my teenage mind was quite fried by Rahzel’s “Super DJ” routine). Their first three albums are great but their whole “organic” sound grew repetitive after awhile and became old hat when Timbaland came around.

  4. silkyjumbo

    oh, the next movement is amazing.

    when i saw these guys last fall, tuba gooding jr was entertaining, but i got tired watching him.

  5. Anonymous

    I still spin this pretty regularly. An absolute classic.

  6. Chris Molanphy

    It’s clearly their best album, but to me this record is a metaphor for the Roots all-around: gobs of potential, so-so results.

    This, to me, is a four-star album but, like pretty much all of their records, it’s overstuffed and not quite a full five-star classic (sorry, beefheartfan). I kept waiting for these guys to make their Low-End Theory and it never quite happened.

    I kind of don’t blame them for taking the Fallon gig. Clearly, ?uestlove will become Fallon’s Max Weinberg, a combination of chops and affable personality. I’d also place ?uestlove in the category of “talented people I really, really like personally but have never heard anything capital-G Great from.”

  7. Brad Nelson

    Game Theory is not stuffed! Although it is not a full five-star classic either.

  8. Anonymous

    @Chris Molanphy: Man, thank you for putting that so well. Like you, i will always think the Roots failed to live up to my expectations. Now, my expectations were probably too high – they were never the band IIIIIII wanted them to be. My Fault. But I always felt like they should be able to drop a killer original beat at a moments notice. These guys knew so much about rap, their hiphop pedigree was so great, their musical touchstones were so awesome, i just felt like EVERY album should have had 12 amazing beats. But it never happened like that.

    Some of them did help on that D’Angelo record tho, so maybe they did their hand in one 5 star classic.

  9. Anonymous

    @Chris Molanphy: ?uestlove’s drumming is 5 stars all the way. Have you ever heard “Silent Treatment”? Oh. My. God.

  10. Chris Molanphy

    @drinkypuss: Agreed on D’Angelo.

    @slowburn: You’re surely right in terms of raw chops — the guy is mad talented — but I’m talking material. For his own band, has ?uestlove ever recorded anything 100% classic? I’m not sure he has.

Leave A Comment