2010 was–by anyone’s estimation–a triumphant year for Philadelphia-native soul/hip-hop band The Roots.
It was their second year as the house band for Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, each night providing interstitial music as well as stepping in as the band for guests as varied as Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Todd Rundgren, Mos Def and Justin Timberlake (with Fallon doing an amazing “History of Hip Hop”).
In June, The Roots released their ninth album How I Got Over. It earned an 8.1 on Pitchfork, “…one of their most lyrically straightforward, and a work of strong stylistic cohesion.” As a casual follower of The Roots dating back to Illadelph Halflife (1996), I agree with Pitchfork on this point. Every Roots album to date has had standout tracks, but How I Got Over is for me their most satisfying effort beginning-to-end. Possibly this has to do with the fact that the album draws its inspiration as a collective sigh of relief with the election of President Obama. How I Got Over is itself a “reaching across the aisle,” if you will, featuring collaborations with indie darlings Monsters of Folk on “Dear God 2.0″ (a re-engineering of the MoF single), harp-wrangler and Van Dyke Parks BFF Joanna Newsom on “Right On,” and members of The Dirty Projectors on the opening acapella track “A Piece of Light.”