The Roots, Braille, Re-Up Gang, Sandman, and Cadence Weapon
Rising Down, The IV Edition, We Got It for Cheap, Vol. 3, Philadelphia Ego, and Afterparty Babies (Def Jam)
Reviewed by Chase Hoffberger, Fri., April 25, 2008
The Roots outdo themselves on eighth LP Rising Down (Def Jam), ?uestlove & Co. welcoming new bassist Owen Biddle into the mix of their most band-centric effort yet. Featuring spots from a whopping 12 outsourced MCs, jump-started by straight fire from Mos Def on the infectious title cut, Rising strips down for the a cappella "@ 15" and souls out on the Wale-featured "Rising Up." Showstopper "75 Bars (Black's Reconstruction)" proves the Philly crew would've been just fine without all the help. Over Deadringer-esque beats ("Beautiful Humanity," "The Cure"), Portland, Ore.'s Braille dials up Pharcyde stylings on The IV Edition (Syntax/Koch), nodding to the Beasties' Check Your Head with the organ-funked "ADDvice." Flexing lyrical muscle, the Re-Up Gang's Malice brings "the realest shit I ever wrote – not Pac inspired; it's crack pot inspired," on We Got It for Cheap, Vol. 3. The Clipse clique trades even bars with Philly heads Sandman and Ab-Liva on Raekwon's "Rainy Dayz," Obie Trice's "Cry Now," and Dame Grease-produced "20k Money Making Brothers on the Corner." With Ab-Liva and Sandman's two Cheap solo tracks, as well as the latter's Philadelphia Ego mixtape, the other half of the Re-Up proves they're more than simply Clipse sidemen. Edmonton, Alberta's Cadence Weapon drops geek-hop "In Search of the Youth Crew" with Afterparty Babies (Epitaph), an album dedicated to those conceived after Ma and Pa got loaded. Running parallel with what's popping in the Rhymesayers camp, the neurotic Cadence stays industrial, and, though his energy's to be applauded, the results are nearly annoying.