Saturday, August 27, 2011

Revenge of the Thirty-Day Song Challenge - Day 3

Day 3 – A Song from a Favorite Album

Though less than I have been earlier in life, I am an Album Person when it comes to music. I love the way a good album comes together, how all of the tracks complement each other and work in tandem to create a complete sonic package. Heck, I even construct mix CDs like I would an album; things like sequencing and pacing make a difference, doggonnit! I haven’t had the opportunity to dive into new album discovery since I was a sophomore in college, but I still enjoy listening to a CD for the whole experience, especially when on the road.

The Roots – “Web 20/20”

The Roots are my absolute favorite hip hop group, bar none. It’s been a long journey (it was a good six months before I “got” my first album by them, The Tipping Point), but I love their blend of live instrumentation, thoughtful lyrics, and often non-traditional song structure. There’s a very good chance you won’t ever hear them in The Club, but their albums are so good when taken as a whole, I really don’t mind at all.

“Web 20/20” is a track from The Root’s newest disc, How I Got Over, which is probably my second-favorite Roots album after Things Fall Apart. How I Got Over is sonically similar to Things Fall Apart, with an emphasis on jazz-influenced hip hop (more so than any other album they’ve released in ten years) and a vibe that is much more chilled out than either of their past two discs. How I Got Over stands unique in my mind, though, as the only album I can think of with an emotional arc. How I Got Over starts in the doldrums, sounding downtrodden and world-weary (“I Walk Alone,” “Dear God 2.0”) before leveling out and becoming determined (“Radio Daze,” “Now or Never”), and finally rising up, stronger and more optimistic than ever (“Doin’ It Again,” “The Fire”). The whole album progresses from depressed to triumphant, and listening to the whole package is rather rewarding.

After the exultant tones of “The Fire” come the last two songs of the disc, which have absolutely nothing to do with the previous paragraph. The first of these, “Web 20/20” is a callback to The Root’s rhyme-a-thon tracks from several of their previous albums, where emcee Black Thought starts freestyling and doesn’t stop for like three or so minutes. After a rewarding but exhausting trip through emotional uplifting, I rather enjoy the tension-relieving nature that comes from “Web 20/20;” it’s playful, fun, and has an exceptional beat along with Black Thought’s razor-sharp technique. It’s the perfect closer to an already great album.

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