Tuesday, December 6, 2011

An Open Letter To Questlove From A Fan

When I initially heard about the concept behind Undun, I was really excited.  It sounded like I was about to get some of that grit that I have been begging for from The Roots.  With such a grim subject, I figured that I would get more than one or two songs with the heart of a Lost Desire, 75 Bars, Here I Come or Water.  Tracks like these are when Black Thought gets to shine most.

For my money he may be the greatest emcee ever, but he seems to be routinely sent to the background in your effort to enhance your Metacritic rating as you told Aisha Tyler is your main goal for every album.  Black Thought is a Pit Bull that you seem to wish was a Golden Retriever.  In other words, I wish I had more songs that I could turn the volume up as far as possible to wake me up on my morning commutes to work.  Where's the sonic excitement on Undun?

It's okay to have cuts and scratches in your music.

It's alright to have some bangers on your album.

The album is an ambitious concept.  The emcees more than held up their end of the bargain, but the actual musical production seemed to lack the same ambition and energy.

This Undun drops at an interesting time for me.  I recently had the chance to catch Jay-Z & Kanye on their Watch The Throne tour.  Although I was not blown away by their album by any means, seeing them perform live did drive one point home, they definitely attempted to entertain with their album.  Watch The Throne was far from perfect, but they wanted to give the listeners a few songs that beg to be played as loud as possible.  Undun was pretty much devoid of that.

I say all of this as a huge fan and someone has wasted years of my life on that site, that only wants to see & hear the best product possible from you.  You're the anti-Kanye.  I love Kanye's production, but I'm not at all a fan of him as a person and I also wouldn't mind if he dropped the microphone altogether and just focused on production.  You on the other hand seem like a great guy from everything that I have heard and read.  I just wish that you would bring a little hip-hop back to The Roots.

I believe Undun is a nice album that will grow on me, but I'm not sure how often I'll be coming back to the album as a whole and isn't that the point for a concept album?  You want the listener to take in your whole album to digest the whole story, but the music doesn't demand it although the emcees definitely do.

Thanks for stopping by,


* ?uestlove image is courtesy of Tatyan Fazlalizadeh
** An actual music review with Dayrell will be forthcoming, but I needed to get my own thoughts out first.


Anonymous said...

You know, I actually agree to an extent. While I like the melancholy edge that The Roots grew into, I agree that Thought doesn't get much chance to really go off on the mic like he used to.
I don't know how much of that is ?uest being a musician and Thought simply having something else to say. Either way, you know I'm a stan for life, lol. But I do get what you're saying.

Unknown said...

I'm stunned and so proud that you actually agree! It warms my heart.


I'm a Black Thought stan!

HHustle said...

I can't disagree with you @ all..I have listened to The Undun album twice and I must say th@ i am far from impressed on any level.. first because most hip hop albums r concept albums to a certain extent..especially roots albums and ppl who happen to kinda fall in their lane..i agree Blackthought is a very good emcee...i think , th@ over janky production like th@ i can understand , even though i might not like ppl listening to waka flocka , i understand , when u wanna hear some head banger boogie..th@ is wh@ ya wanna hear..and it doesn't matter if the lyrics don't motivate u as long as the music does...from th@ aspect i think the roots have missed the mark totally...as far as concept albums go it's no Blacktrash: The Autobiography of Kirk Jones ... i could name countless others th@ it doesn't compare to..i guess it's allot more of us out here than we think th@ weren't impressed with Undun