What Hip Hop Is Missing Part 1

http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=B8wfWO06yp8

That video was awesome, right?

Jimmy Fallon has come a long way since he was ruining sketches by laughing during his Saturday Night Live days and Justin Timberlake is…well, Justin Timberlake. Add in some hip hop, bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes and you end up with a nice fluffy, scrumtrulescent morsel of greatness.

But even with those two entertainment heavyweights (JF’s burgeoning stardom and JT’s inexplicable actualized mogulness) the real star of the whole sketch were the 7 or so guy just off camera providing the backdrop to all those forgot-remembered-forgotten again classics. The Roots.

The Roots have perennially been slept on. Criminally. And I have a theory why…

It’s because they actually play instruments. There’s no country in hip hop for actual musicianship.

Trust me, this ain’t some electronic vs. sampling vs. real instrument debate, because I’ve used drum machines and chopped enough samples to personally know that joint is just as difficult as learning fingerings and chords on a piano. What I mean is that in this world of instant, self gratification, it’s too much to take the time to learn an instrument. As difficult as it is, chopping a sample and banging out a nice track on the pads takes less time to learn than picking up a guitar. Composing a repetitive two note, four bar loop in a piano roll, breaks down the barrier to making a complete song.

But at what cost?

Rewatch the video to see just how nimble the transitions of completely different songs with different tempos are key signatures are. A sketch like this would be orders of magnitude more difficult to achieve without such a great hip hop band. A band that understands all the subtle things that make hip hop feel. A lesser band not acclimated to hip hop culture would probably just hit the 2 and the 4 and call it a day, not The Roots. The problem is, The Roots are few and far between…

To Be Continued Tomorrow


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I'm a thirty year old man who likes Medicine For Melancholy.


    • Laurent
      March 19, 2013

      Bro this is so true. For one, I’m an extreme fan of The Roots not just of their music but also their versatility and Black Thoughts humility as a leader to let them back other cats and not be offended. They have been INCREDIBLY slept on and yet, they are jaded to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! THE Roots to mute are music’s version of the San Antonio Spurs. All substance but the flash and amazement is in how technically proficient they are and they’re ability to run with anybody! Great piece.

    • Ruth Jeremiah
      March 19, 2013

      Wait…so Jimmy Fallon is legitimately relevant? I had no idea.

      Anyway, great post. I have indeed slept on The Roots although it wasn’t always that way. Maybe I should start listening again.


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