Originally formed in 1989, this Philadelphia supergroup is finally getting the recognition it deserves. Pioneers of the live-rap movement, the Roots use traditional instrumentation in lieu of samples and drum machines. Their distinctly jazzy sound is the direct result of highly skilled musicianship, as demonstrated on their high-quality albums and always impressive live performances. In addition to their signature, organic sound, they are also known for their positive and conscious lyricism. Emcees Black Thought and Malik B always give you something to think about, dropping verses on such heavy topics as politics, equality and respect for fellow man. The Roots have opened the door for a new breed of artist, stressing the importance of original music and intelligent content, a refreshing contrast to hip-hop's glut of party-thug rappers. They are without a doubt one of the most important bands around, not just as emcees, but as musicians and role models.
The Roots Concert Films
Burnin' Down The House
Etta James & The Roots Band
Runtime: 53 minEtta James, and her long time backing band The Roots Band, showcases her ability to take on any genre and conquer it. In Burning Down The House she goes from the sultry jazz of At Last to the RocknRoll of I Just Wanna Make Love to You, to the deep blues of Id Rather Go Blind to the funk of You Can Leave Your Hat On.
The Roots Top Tracks
Live in Montreux
Runtime: 1 hr 22 minIn July 2007 the famous Stravinski Auditorium at Montreux was witness to a gathering of the Wu-Tang Clan. With the exception of the sadly deceased Ol' Dirty Bastard, the whole Clan was present: RZA, GZA, Method Man, Inspectah Deck, Raekwon The Chef, U-God, Ghostface Killah and Masta Killa. Also joining the party were some of their extended family members: Cappadonna, Streetlife and DJ Mathematics. This rare gathering of the full clan took Montreux by storm and got the whole audience on their feet and jumping with a set featuring all their best known hits and classics plus a number of solo tracks, including a clutch of Ol' Dirty Bastard hits.
Live From the Kennedy Center
Runtime: 52 minWhen Nas was just 19 years old, he composed what would become one of hip-hop’s defining masterpieces, Illmatic. To mark its 20th anniversary, Nas delivers a standout performance alongside the National Symphony Orchestra at Washington DC’s Kennedy Center. With conductor Steven Reineke taking the orchestra through arrangements of beats by DJ Premier and Large Professor, Nas delivers impassioned renditions of tracks like “N.Y. State of Mind”, “The World Is Yours”, and “Memory Lane (Sittin’ in Da Park)”. Between songs, the program cuts away to both archival and new interview footage to document Nas’ rise from Queensbridge upstart to influential rap icon.
Me Myself and I
De La Soul
Runtime: 55 minWith their clever, surrealistic lyrics, inventive use of sampling and incorporating an eclectic mix of reggae, funk, jazz, fashion and psychedelia into their sound, New York-based DE LA SOUL are one of the most original and influential groups on the hip hop scene. Singing about peace and love rather than about sleaze and violence like most of their considerably more hardcore rap contemporaries, De La Soul come across as modern day hippies, an image which found favor with rock audiences. Hailed on their arrival on the scene in 1989 as the future of hip hop, De La Soul were quickly perceived as the leaders of a contingent of New York-based alternative rappers who dubbed themselves The Native Tongues Posse. This movement for a while looked as if it was going to eclipse hardcore hip hop in terms of popularity. This concert, filmed at the 1997 Lokerse Festival, features their hits 'Me, Myself And I' (with its sample of Funkadelic's '(Not Just) Knee Deep'), 'Ring, Ring, Ring' and 'Breakadawn'.
In Session 2003
Runtime: 16 minTalib Kweli performs live at the intimate In Session in 2003. The Session features performances of his hits; Good To You,” “Get By” and; the Blast.” The Session concludes with an interview with Talib Kweli.
Live at the Gramercy Theater 2014
Runtime: 60 minLonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., better known by his stage name Common, is an American hip hop recording artist, actor, poet and film producer. He maintained a significant underground following into the late 1990s, after which he gained notable mainstream success through his work with the Soulquarians. This intimate live performance gives the fans the chance to see him perform live at Gramercy Theater.