[image-4]Published May 29, 2008.
The Roots
Rising Down
(Def Jam)
The Roots don't make it easy on their listeners but, at the same time, they richly reward them. Rising Down opens with "The Pow Wow"---not a skit, but a slice of real life: a conference call between band members, including drummer/producer ?uestlove and (seemingly) record-company representatives, about the band's identity and market viability (issues the Philly group face). The call goes haywire with parties screaming and cursing each other up and down. The tone and mood underscore the whole album, which frequently erupts into menacing and powerful tracks, especially when Black Thought takes the mic from myriad guest MCs.
---Sean Flinn

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