Phrenology review by The Roots

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  • Released: Nov 26, 2002
  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.5 (6 votes)
The Roots: Phrenology

Sound — 10
Not only is the production on Phrenology brilliant, but it's also their most original album, and one of the most original hip hop albums ever made. Of course lots of people say that about lots of albums, so you have to hear it to take my word for it. But it's rare that a band can mix so many styles, such as hip hop, soul, rock, funk, r&b, and jazz sounding things, sometimes several in the same song, and have it come out this brilliant. I'm not a big hip hop fan, and like very little that's been made in the last ten years or so, but the Root's still continues to amaze me.

Lyrics — 8
I think black thought is a criminally underrated emcee, and his lyrics at times are brilliant. There are some miss moments with the lyrics, and I think the "N" word is used too much. The word doesn't bother me in the slightest (I'm white) I just think when it's used too much it covers up the otherwise creative lyrics. The lyrics roots are more than you'd expect from a hip hop band, they're clever and sometimes deep, but aren't trying to be in your face smart and don't come off as pretentious. Black thought is a clever wordsmith and his delivery is amazing.

Overall Impression — 9
Overall, this is my favorite Root's album. Before this album, they didn't have anything that sounded like this. And the two album's they've made since it's release also don't sound like it. Lot's of hardcore Root's fans avoid this album because it's too eclectic. But that's a lot of the charm for me. This is an album for people who claim not to like hip hop. It really has something for everyone on this, juxtaposing it to work very well. When this was released, Rolling Stone proclaimed The Root's as "Hip hop's best band" and I couldn't agree more.? estlove's drumming molds very well with the bass and the guitar. Some highlights are Thought at Work, The Seed 2.0, Water, and Complexity. I'm not going to tell you to go straight out and buy this album, but at least listen to it a couple times and see if you like it.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Don N
    nice review! they're also nice live performers who just love to play.(at the show i've seen they jammed and rap-freestyled 1 1/2 hour on zeppelin riffs...) i think you can hear that throughout the album too.