Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Songs You Should Know: Silent Treatment

Do You Want More is not The Roots first album, but in terms of the public eye outside of their home base of Illadelph, it might as well be. As a young underground head always with my nose in the air sniffing for the new hotness, I never got wind of their debut Organix, but songs like Proceed, Distortion to Static, The Lesson et al. converted me and all surrounding heads in hip hop's motherland of nyc. The approach wasn't totally unprecedented — we enjoyed a one-off taste of the live band feel via the Brand New Heavies and Heavy Rhyme Experience Vol. 1 — but they were the first real-deal hip hop band, and thus immediately recognized as heralds of a new era in the genre.

The crystalline boho-chic sensibility of Do You Want More now sounds a bit anomalous compared to their contemporary sound. Much like Three Feet High and Rising for De La Soul, it evokes a sense of hippie free-loving hip hop that was understandably replaced with something more mature, nuanced and robust. But while Proceed and Static were critically acclaimed lead singles, I would argue Silent Treatment as the most important song on the album, and considering the import of the album, possibly their careers. Silent Treatment is the song most responsible for The Roots Paradox.



  1. left out in edit:

    Those familiar with The Roots oeuvre will recognize that the love song is one of Black Thought’s specialty. Often criticized for his lack of accessibility -- perhaps the biggest chink in the Roots armor -- BT has always been sublime in penning the urban romance songs. And Silent Treatment, which then sets off a lineup of Roots favorites – The ‘Notic, You Got me, Break You Off etc. – is where he debuts that form.

  2. Anonymous8/21/2007

    Yes, it is quite an elegant song. Thanks, TAN.

  3. Anonymous8/21/2007

    well said...you did that...the roots are everything that i wanted stetsasonic to be...

  4. Anonymous8/22/2007


    This post made me pull out all of my Roots albums, prolly have them on rotation for the next few weeks.

  5. what ever happened to top 40 pop, ya know Britney Spears?

  6. OMG! I think I love you! I flew from Dallas, TX to San Bernardino, CA for the Rock The Bells tour because The Roots weren't slated to perform! "Proceed" is the song tht opened my heart, mind, and sould to hip hop so The Roots hold a special place for me! "Silent Treatment" is one of my favorites! T.A.N. it's like you're inside my head! WILL YOU MARRY ME!! LM(red)AO! kidding of course, but I am "married" to reading your blog!

  7. Anonymous8/22/2007

    "Silent Treatment" is a great song.

    The Roots will never blow because producing GOOD pop songs is just not their strength. They're normally too weird or groove-based for mainstream consumption. When they actively try to make pop songs, at least over the last few albums, they fail miserably because their content tends toward the "I Need Love"/ "The Light" route, and their music tends toward the "simplify our sound for the masses" route. Those routes suck.

    Plus, they lack what Snoop/Dre, Outkast, Big, Jay, now Kanye. had at their peaks: either

    1.) the ability to make shit that the avg. rap fan likes that wider audiences just happened to like too.

    or, more cynically, 2.) an image as a group that "real" black people like. Some of our more more limited brethren view the Roots as bougie, black college, white folk rap. Kast got lucky because they are from the South. They never would have been as huge had they been from the East coast. They needed the Southern (sadly read: "authentically black") support before they were allowed to experiment and expand their fanbase.

  8. Anonymous3/15/2008

    The Roots' struggle for supremacy in the mainstream is doomed for a few reasons:1. They do not know their strengths consistently enough. Exhibit A: the B-side to Break You Off. What a chaotic end to what was a pleasant moment. 2. Even the best mainstream ear does not like or understand the deeper notes of what the Roots offer. At the most refined of these second-rate ears we get a
    Joss Stone, an Robin Thicke or a Christina Aguilera (honorary "black" props to her though, she almost gets immunity). 3. Black people, the ear people, not the profane rabble, are only accidentally black, but not knowing this, especially in the male half of the population, leads to obscenity--including profanity-- that they , understandably, think is justified by their maligned physical appearance. If the president of the ear people would edit out the profanity, everyone in their right mind [=ear] would convert to our point of view [=sound].
    At present, the Roots can't blow, and black people can't blow.


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