The Roots - Things Fall Apart

One of the cornerstone albums of alternative rap's second wave, Things Fall Apart was the point where the Roots' tremendous potential finally coalesced into a structured album that maintained its focus from top to bottom. If the group sacrifices a little of the unpredictability of its jam sessions, the resulting consistency more than makes up for it, since the record flows from track to track so effortlessly. Taking its title from the Chinua Achebe novel credited with revitalizing African fiction, Things Fall Apart announces its ambition right upfront, and reinforces it in the opening sound collage. Dialogue sampled from Spike Lee's Mo' Better Blues implies a comparison to abstract modern jazz that lost its audience, and there's another quote about hip-hop records being treated as disposable, that they aren't maximized as product or as art. That's the framework in which the album operates, and while there's a definite unity counteracting the second observation, the artistic ambition actually helped gain the Roots a whole new audience ("coffeehouse chicks and white dudes," as Common puts it in the liner notes). The backing tracks are jazzy and reflective, filled with subtly unpredictable instrumental lines, and the band also shows a strong affinity for the neo-soul movement, which they actually had a hand in kick-starting via their supporting work on Erykah Badu's Baduizm. Badu returns the favor by guesting on the album's breakthrough single, "You Got Me," an involved love story that also features a rap from Eve, co-writing from Jill Scott, and an unexpected drum'n'bass breakbeat in the outro. Other notables include Mos Defon the playful old-school rhymefest "Double Trouble," Slum Village superproducer Jay Dee on "Dynamite!," and Philly native DJ Jazzy Jeff on "The Next Movement." But the real stars are Black Thought and Malik B, who drop such consistently nimble rhymes throughout the record that picking highlights is extremely difficult. Along with works by Lauryn Hill, Common, and Black Star, Things Fall Apart is essential listening for anyone interested in the new breed of mainstream conscious rap. AllMusic Review by 

 

Tracklist

A1 Act Won (Things Fall Apart)
Producer – The Grand Wizzards
 
A2 Table Of Content (Parts 1 & 2)
Producer – The Grand Wizzards
 
A3 The Next Movement
Producer – The Grand Wizzards
 
A4 Step Into The Relm
Producer – The Grand Wizzards
 
A5 The Spark
Featuring – D'AngeloProducer – The Grand Wizzards
 
B1 Dynamite!
Producer [Original] – Jay Dee
 
B2 Without A Doubt
Featuring – Lady B (2)Producer – Chaos (2)
 
B3 Ain't Saying Nothin' New
Co-producer – Scott StorchFeaturing – Dice RawProducer – The Grand WizzardsVocals [Additional] – Eve Of Destruction*
 
B4 Double Trouble
Co-producer – James PoyserFeaturing – Mos DefProducer – The Grand Wizzards
 
C1 Act Too (The Love Of My Life)
Featuring – CommonProducer – The Grand Wizzards
 
C2 100% Dundee
Producer – The Grand Wizzards
 
C3 Diedre Vs. Dice
Producer – The Grand Wizzards
 
C4 Adrenaline!
Co-producer – Scott StorchFeaturing – Beanie SigelProducer – The Grand Wizzards
 
C5 3rd Acts: ? Vs. Scratch 2...Electric Boogaloo
Producer – The Grand Wizzards
 
D1 You Got Me
Co-producer – Scott StorchFeaturing – Erykah Badu, Eve Of Destruction*Producer – The Grand Wizzards
 
D2 Don't See Us
Featuring – Dice RawProducer – The Grand Wizzards
 
D3 The Return To Innocence Lost
Producer – The Grand WizzardsVocals [Spoken Word] – Ursula Rucker
 
D4 Act Fore... The End?

 

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