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The Roots|Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart

The Roots

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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 Def on 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.
© Steve Huey /TiVo

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Things Fall Apart

The Roots

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1
Act Won (Things Fall Apart) (Album Version (Explicit)) Explicit
00:00:53

Tom Coyne, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ahmir Thompson, ComposerLyricist - The Roots, MainArtist - The Grand Wizzards, Producer - The Grand Wizards, Producer - Keith Cramer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1999 UMG Recordings, Inc.

2
Table Of Contents (Pts 1 & 2) (Album Version (Explicit)) Explicit
00:03:37

Leonard Hubbard, ComposerLyricist - David Ivory, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - AXEL NIEHAUS, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tariq Trotter, ComposerLyricist - Ahmir Thompson, ComposerLyricist - ?uestlove, Producer - The Roots, MainArtist - Jimmy Grey, ComposerLyricist - Smart Abdul-Basit, ComposerLyricist - Malik Abdul-Basit, ComposerLyricist - The Grand Wizards, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Jon Smelts, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Keith Cramer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1999 UMG Recordings, Inc.

3
The Next Movement (Album Version (Explicit)) Explicit
00:04:10

Leonard Hubbard, ComposerLyricist - Bob Power, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - AXEL NIEHAUS, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tariq Trotter, ComposerLyricist - Ahmir Thompson, ComposerLyricist - DJ Jazzy Jeff, FeaturedArtist - The Roots, MainArtist - Mercedes Martinez, ComposerLyricist - Jimmy Grey, ComposerLyricist - Tracy Moore, ComposerLyricist - Smart Abdul-Basit, ComposerLyricist - Jazzyfatnastees, FeaturedArtist - The Grand Wizzards, Producer - The Grand Wizards, Producer - Keith Cramer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1999 UMG Recordings, Inc.

4
Step Into The Realm (Album Version (Explicit)) Explicit
00:02:49

Leonard Hubbard, ComposerLyricist - AXEL NIEHAUS, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Tariq Trotter, ComposerLyricist - Gordon Rice, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Kenyatta Saunders, ComposerLyricist - The Roots, MainArtist - Kelo, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jimmy Grey, ComposerLyricist - Smart Abdul-Basit, ComposerLyricist - Malik Abdul-Basit, ComposerLyricist - Kelo Williams, ComposerLyricist - The Grand Wizzards, Producer - The Grand Wizards, Producer - Jon Smelts, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1999 UMG Recordings, Inc.

5
The Spark (Album Version (Explicit)) Explicit
00:03:52

Leonard Hubbard, ComposerLyricist - David Ivory, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Bob Power, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - AXEL NIEHAUS, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tariq Trotter, ComposerLyricist - Ahmir Thompson, ComposerLyricist - The Roots, MainArtist - Jimmy Grey, ComposerLyricist - Smart Abdul-Basit, ComposerLyricist - Malik Abdul-Basit, ComposerLyricist - The Grand Wizzards, Producer - Jon Smelts, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Keith Cramer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1999 UMG Recordings, Inc.

6
Dynamite! (Album Version (Explicit)) Explicit
00:04:45

Leonard Hubbard, ComposerLyricist - David Ivory, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - AXEL NIEHAUS, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Tariq Trotter, ComposerLyricist - James Yancey, ComposerLyricist - Ahmir Thompson, ComposerLyricist - The Roots, MainArtist - Jimmy Grey, ComposerLyricist - Todd Fairall, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Rehani Sayed, ComposerLyricist - The Grand Wizzards, Producer - The Grand Wizards, Producer - Keith Cramer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1999 UMG Recordings, Inc.

7
Without A Doubt (Album Version (Explicit)) Explicit
00:04:14

Melvin Lewis, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - David Ivory, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - AXEL NIEHAUS, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Chaos, Producer - Tariq Trotter, ComposerLyricist - Ahmir Thompson, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - The Roots, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Lady B, FeaturedArtist - Jesse Bonds Weaver, ComposerLyricist - Melvin Lewis Jr., ComposerLyricist - The Grand Wizzards, Producer - Keith Cramer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1999 UMG Recordings, Inc.

8
Ain't Sayin' Nothin' New (Album Version (Explicit)) Explicit
00:04:34

Leonard Hubbard, ComposerLyricist - David Ivory, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Bob Power, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Scott Storch, Producer, Co-Producer, ComposerLyricist - Tariq Trotter, ComposerLyricist - Ahmir Thompson, ComposerLyricist - The Roots, MainArtist - Dice Raw, FeaturedArtist - Karl B. Jenkins, ComposerLyricist - Jimmy Grey, ComposerLyricist - Smart Abdul-Basit, ComposerLyricist - Malik Abdul-Basit, ComposerLyricist - The Grand Wizzards, Producer - The Grand Wizards, Producer - Jon Smelts, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Keith Cramer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Eve Of Destruction, Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1999 UMG Recordings, Inc.

9
Double Trouble (Album Version (Explicit)) Explicit
00:05:50

Leonard Hubbard, ComposerLyricist - David Ivory, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Dante Smith, ComposerLyricist - AXEL NIEHAUS, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Christos Tsantilis, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - James Poyser, Producer, Co-Producer, ComposerLyricist - Tariq Trotter, ComposerLyricist - Mos Def, FeaturedArtist - Ahmir Thompson, ComposerLyricist - The Roots, MainArtist - Jimmy Grey, ComposerLyricist - Smart Abdul-Basit, ComposerLyricist - D. Beze, ComposerLyricist - The Grand Wizzards, Producer - The Grand Wizards, Producer - Keith Cramer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Nastess, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1999 UMG Recordings, Inc.

10
Act Too (Love Of My Life) (Album Version (Explicit)) Explicit
00:04:54

Leonard Hubbard, ComposerLyricist - David Ivory, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - AXEL NIEHAUS, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Christos Tsantilis, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - James Poyser, ComposerLyricist - Tariq Trotter, ComposerLyricist - Common, Vocalist, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Ahmir Thompson, ComposerLyricist - Lonnie Lynn, ComposerLyricist - The Roots, MainArtist - The Randy Watson Experience, Producer - Jimmy Grey, ComposerLyricist - Smart Abdul-Basit, ComposerLyricist - The Grand Wizzards, Producer - The Grand Wizards, Producer - Jon Smelts, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Keith Cramer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Nastess, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1999 UMG Recordings, Inc.

11
100% Dundee (Album Version (Explicit)) Explicit
00:03:53

Leonard Hubbard, ComposerLyricist - Kamal, Producer - AXEL NIEHAUS, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tariq Trotter, ComposerLyricist - RAHZEL, Producer - Ahmir Thompson, ComposerLyricist - The Roots, MainArtist - Rozell Brown, ComposerLyricist - Karl B. Jenkins, ComposerLyricist - Jimmy Grey, ComposerLyricist - Smart Abdul-Basit, ComposerLyricist - Malik Abdul-Basit, ComposerLyricist - Ted Greenburg, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1999 UMG Recordings, Inc.

12
Diedre Vs. Dice (Album Version (Explicit)) Explicit
00:00:46

David Ivory, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Gordon Rice, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Ahmir Thompson, ComposerLyricist - The Roots, MainArtist - Karl B. Jenkins, ComposerLyricist - Deidra Murray, ComposerLyricist - Diedre Murray, ComposerLyricist - The Grand Wizzards, Producer - The Grand Wizards, Producer - Keith Cramer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1999 UMG Recordings, Inc.

13
Adrenaline! (Album Version (Explicit)) Explicit
00:04:27

Dwight Grant, ComposerLyricist - Leonard Hubbard, ComposerLyricist - Bob Power, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Scott Storch, Producer, Co-Producer, ComposerLyricist - Tariq Trotter, ComposerLyricist - Ahmir Thompson, ComposerLyricist - Beanie Sigel, FeaturedArtist - The Roots, MainArtist - Dice Raw, FeaturedArtist - Karl B. Jenkins, ComposerLyricist - Jimmy Grey, ComposerLyricist - Malik Abdul-Basit, ComposerLyricist - The Grand Negaz, Producer - The Grand Wizzards, Producer - Jon Smelts, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1998 UMG Recordings, Inc.

14
3rd Acts: ? Vs. Scratch 2... Electric Boogaloo (Album Version (Explicit)) Explicit
00:00:51

Ahmir Thompson, Mixer, StudioPersonnel, ComposerLyricist - The Roots, MainArtist - Kyle Jones, ComposerLyricist - The Grand Wizzards, Producer - The Grand Wizards, Producer - Keith Cramer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1999 UMG Recordings, Inc.

15
You Got Me (Album Version (Explicit)) Explicit
00:04:19

David Ivory, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Bob Power, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Eve, FeaturedArtist, ComposerLyricist - Scott Storch, Producer, Co-Producer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel, ComposerLyricist - AXEL NIEHAUS, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tariq Trotter, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Jill Scott, ComposerLyricist - Ahmir Thompson, ComposerLyricist - The Roots, MainArtist - Erykah Badu, Background Vocalist, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - The Grand Negaz, Producer - Jon Smelts, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Keith Cramer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Eve Of Destruction, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1999 UMG Recordings, Inc.

16
Don't See Us (Album Version (Explicit)) Explicit
00:04:30

David Ivory, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - AXEL NIEHAUS, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - James Poyser, ComposerLyricist - Tariq Trotter, ComposerLyricist - Ahmir Thompson, ComposerLyricist - The Roots, MainArtist - Karl B. Jenkins, ComposerLyricist - Smart Abdul-Basit, ComposerLyricist - Malik Abdul-Basit, ComposerLyricist - The Grand Negaz, Producer - The Grand Wizzards, Producer - Jon Smelts, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Keith Cramer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1998 UMG Recordings, Inc.

17
The Return To Innocence Lost (Album Version (Explicit)) Explicit
00:05:39

David Ivory, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Ahmir Thompson, ComposerLyricist - Ursula Rucker, FeaturedArtist, ComposerLyricist - Anthony Tidd, ComposerLyricist - The Roots, MainArtist - The Grand Wizzards, Producer - The Grand Wizards, Producer - Keith Cramer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1999 UMG Recordings, Inc.

18
Act Fore...The End? (Album Version (Explicit)) Explicit
00:04:44

Leonard Hubbard, ComposerLyricist - Tariq Trotter, ComposerLyricist - Ahmir Thompson, ComposerLyricist - The Roots, MainArtist - Jimmy Grey, ComposerLyricist - Smart Abdul-Basit, ComposerLyricist - Malik Abdul-Basit, ComposerLyricist - The Grand Wizards, Producer

℗ 1999 UMG Recordings, Inc.

Album Description

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 Def on 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.
© Steve Huey /TiVo

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