Taking Rap Back To Its Real Roots

Enough with the endless sampling and the cheesy million-dollar videos, says the Philadelphia-based act the Roots. It's time to make rap real again. "Now it's all about money and talking about how many women you have and cars you drive," says drummer ?uestlove. "Corporate America has taken it over."

But less sampling doesn't spell a lack of influences. The group's sublime album, "Things Fall Apart,'' takes its title from Chinua Achebe's novel about colonizers who destroy an African community. Another track splices in a scene from Spike Lee's "Mo' Better Blues.''

The Roots call for a return to the old school of rap with their live band sound and their midtempo beats, but the best track is "You Got Me,'' a love song featuring Erykah Badu. (The group produced and performed on her Grammy-winning album.) With Badu's earthy falsetto and frontman Black Thought's smooth Philly flow, the song will likely become an anthem for the Lauryn Hill crowd. "Things Fall Apart'' reminds us that truly good music--hip-hop or otherwise--never strays far from its roots.

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