The New York Times: "How I Got Over" ignores hip-hop's fantasies of fame, lust and strip-club V.I.P. rooms. "You came to celebrate/I came to cerebrate," Black Thought declares in "The Fire." The music also spurns current programmed beats and Auto-Tuned choruses (until the final track, "Hustla"). The Roots prefer Ahmir (Questlove) Thompson's sinewy boom-bap drumming, voices that sound human and vintage-style soul vamps played by the band itself (though there are samples, too).
Entertainment Weekly: Has working for Jimmy Fallon dulled the Roots' edge? Not a bit. The venerable hip-hop band's first effort since joining NBC's late-night lineup delivers all the funk/soul/jazz vibes fans have come to expect. Plus it features their most successful forays yet into the world of indie rock -- not least the plaintive Monsters of Folk collab ''Dear God 2.0.''
AP: But life is a journey, and so is "How I Got Over." The gloom lifts halfway through on "The Day," where self-reflection creates good results, and some vintage battle rhymes come later. Musically, it's full of soulful pianos and ripe orchestration propelled by ?uestlove's boom-bap. Many predicted the end of The Roots when they took a job as house band for silly Jimmy Fallon's late-night TV show. Perhaps that marked a new opportunity for the band to escape their inhuman touring schedule and focus on finally making a memorable, mature album worthy of their enormous talent.
URB: Consistency versus growth is a trap that so many groups and artists fall into: either they branch out but have major peaks and valleys or they are solidly consistent because each album feels the same. It's incredible that ?uest, Thought and the rest of dem boys have successfully avoided this trap. While How I Got Over is cut from the same cloth as their last album, Rising Down , the fabric of it is unique to itself. It's dark and tragic in places, but also enlightening and empowering. It's short and sweet and demands to be played more than once.
How I Got Over is out now via Def Jam.
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