previewed their next LP, undun. You may glean from the title’s lowercase styling that it’s a concept record. undun is “an existential re-telling of the short life of one Redford Stephens (1974-1999).”
Or as Questlove says: “Undun is the story of this kid who becomes criminal, but he wasn’t born criminal. He’s not the nouveau exotic primitive bug-eyed gunrunner like Tupac’s character Bishop in Juice… he’s actually thoughtful and is neither victim nor hero. Just some kid who begins to order his world in a way that makes the most sense to him at a given moment… At the end of the day… isn’t that what we all do?”
Mmm, yes. I do do that. Quest recently told Spin that Prince Paul's A Prince Among Thieves served as undun's inspiration. So in the spirit of helpfulness, and as a fan of Prince Paul, concepts, conceits, and Consuela from Family Guy, here are some things to remember about hip-hop concept albums:
1. Prince Paul invented The Concept.
Prince Paul (with De La) was to first to really make sophisticated ironic humor in hip hop (before that it was all “Pickin’ Boogers” Biz Markie humor... not that there’s anything unfunny about booger-pickin’ with Biz Markie). A friend of mine once argued that in the pantheon of concept albums, De La Soul is Dead is like the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. And Paul’s Prince Among Thieves is like Tommy. Your mileage may vary on that analogy, but it means SOMEONE SHOULD LET PAUL MAKE ANOTHER ALBUM.
2. Outkast perfected The Concept.
They started with a loose conceit in Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, but then raised the bar with every album after that, eventually ending up with the film musical Idlewild, which was lackluster on the screen, but had a solid soundtrack (there are maybe five artists who wouldn't take "Mighty O" and "Morris Brown" and whatever else and not be better off for it). Unfortunately, the goddamned concept albums tore them apart. Hopefully the Roots' yin and yang, Black Thought and Questlove, won’t let undun be their undoing.
3. The Concept didn’t help Kid Cudi, Lupe, and so many others.
CONTINUED ON GRANTLAND
5 Notes on Hip Hop Concept Albums [Grantland]
Also if you haven't peeped the first single: "Make My"
The Roots "Make My" featuring Big K.R.I.T. by okayplayer