Now you all may be aware that ?uestlove is not only the (Okay)player-president, he is also the Chairman of the Boards on this here site, who will occasionally bless the readers and backchatters with a dissertation’s worth of knowledge on anything from his own work to an insider’s persepctive on some of rap’s great moments to just general life lessons learned. Recently he provided OKP posters with a “cliff notes” guide to undun, specifically regarding the narrative arc followed by main character Redford Stephens, which as noted, unfolds in reverse chronological order. You can of course get a much fancier cliff notes from the undun iOS app, but it’s always nice to hear ideas direct from the source’s mouth, for which reason we present ?uesto’s breakdown in all its uncapitalized glory (after the jump).

song one-dead
song two-dying but dont know im dead yet, oh snap i am dead!!! wahhhhaa!
song three-someone kills me
song four- “got a problem nigga?….what?!?! what??!?!?!?….oh…you better walk away….so anyway yall like i was saying we shou——–
song five-work done. let’s celebrate a lil bit. but just for a lil bit
song six- its a dirty job but somebody has got to do it and a closed mouth dont get fed. even though im haunted by the actions that got me here
song seven- live like an animal. die like an animal. but life goes on.
song eight- am i my brothers keeper? nah dukes. this is a business. sorry. but you had it coming to you.
song nine- i hate being put in this situation, but now i gotta “handle something” and i gotta do what i gotta do. even if that mean an ICU…
song 10- im all business. and unlike these scumbags. im rising outta this mess somehow someway
song 11-14
a) nightfall. time to retire.
b) sleep
c) nightmares haunts
d) prepares for new day and whatever challenges that come forth/abrupt awakening.

this is a rough chart followed (actually we wanted a strict 10 so that way we wont dwell to long telling a narrative twice.

when you get Undun this could be a good cheat chart for you.

we wanted to Tarrintino it so that his death is first and his morning was last.

i was never a lyric guy, for if i was Riq and i woulda been fighting after Organix’s “Im Out Deah”

rich went hardcore on mofos. and im shocked tariq welcomed the coaching. i was amazed he was so open to coaching.

i was like “rich if he “im from the city where”‘s me one more time imma crash this car”

so being as though Rich is the ONE dude that you are glad said “nah that’s wack” and you respect it you go back and redo it. (which leaves me headscratching about Blu’s remarks)

he made sure that every line made sense and they stuck to the script.


  • Wisco Kid

    The Roots… consistency. Thanks guys!

  • seriously. great album guys. like its perfect. you guys are like the beatles or radiohead or led zepplin of hip hop. progression while still maintaining the original integrity of the group. fucking brilliant.


    always can count on the Roots!…No Questions

  • BleSSeD_ViceS

    Damn it feels good to have this album in my life. Thanks guys! Sincerely. ALSO>>> who is rich? and what blu remarks are you referring to in this?

  • Hussa

    Rich = RICH NICHOLS aka the Executive Producer of undun. DIX is also The ROOTS manager.

    • BleSSeD_ViceS

      Thanks! my guess was manager. did my research and I am embarrassed to say i didn’t know his name. he plays the background well i guess. all these years following the roots and his name didn’t register. I mean I’ve even seen brooklyn babylon and still nothing. my bad rich.

  • Cormega215

    EPIC Had to get the hardcopy for the archive can’t download masterpieces, great work the roots are the beetles of hip-hop.

  • this album is an instant classic

  • plb

    Am I the only one who doesn’t think the narrative is clear? I agree that the album has consistent themes – namely “the intersection of free will and prescribed destiny as it plays out ‘on the corner,'” but after listening to this album forwards and backwards, and reading this rough guide, I think ‘narrative’ is too strong a word. I understand that the focus is on “emotives” and internalities, but I don’t think that excuses our masters of ceremonies from actually telling the story well. Solid album with a faint narrative arc, but not a narrative.

    Does the ios app clarify things? I haven’t seen it.

    • matt

      The whole ambiguity and lack of detail and specific events allow for the story of Redford Stevens to be accessible rather than saying specific things etc.

      I think by doing this it especially puts emphasis on how feelings and emotions, along with social conditions, were catalysts to the actions and well inevitable death of Redford.

      my two cents though.

    • BleSSeD_ViceS

      I agree with both of you. The narrative isn’t really clear but the arc is crystal and if the narrative were more detailed it would only disservice the music as a whole if you ask me. It’s as if it tries to be the soundtrack and movie at the same time. A good soundtrack should not distract from the movie (lyrics/story in this case) and vice versa. That is why they nailed it with this one. Today should be national The Roots Day! I declare it. and should any of you roots happen to read this. Please come back to Colorado before I die. Red Rocks maybe? it’s been to long since I’ve seen you guys.

  • plb

    Thanks for the feedback.

    On the Juan Epstein show, ?uest said, “[The Roots] are all things to all people.” I think this album shows that. It’s a narrative, but it’s not; it’s tragic and yet catchy; experimental and radio-friendly. Did someone say ‘ Grammy?’

    Okay, new topic: Does Redford (born ’74, died ’99) represent some type, element, or era of hip hop?

  • Hussa

    @ plb – I believe u can’t give out awards for “true art”, ie: Grammys, etc. art transcends what any socalled industry decides what best.

  • Hussa

    … but that’s just my opinion.

    • plb

      Hussa, I agree.

      At the same time, for whatever it’s worth, this album just smells strongly of ‘Grammy’ to me. Not a bad thing, per se.

      Anyway, let’s get this ‘RIP Redford’ t-shirt movement popping: If enough of us respectfully demand ghetto-style tees with the image of the actor portraying Redford, the okp store might press them up and sell them. 🙂

  • thankgod4soul

    On some songs, the “narrative” shows itself in the last verse, which really is the first verse? Especially on Remember.

  • Jason

    I see this album working on more of an existential level dealing in redford’s thouhgts about the life he lives and his actions. some tracks add some clarity to the actual event but I feel those are just place keepers in the bigger scheme of what the album represents. To truly understand what is done here it takes multiple listens. This is an opus with movements that are meant to be heard together. I read a review and the person’s gripe was that the songs can’t really exist without being part of this narrative, they can’t stand alone. THATS THE POINT!!!! It’s called art and song writing.

    • JD

      i agree the only thing i would have liked to see is lighthouse and the other side flipped in the sequencing … i think the contemplation (otherside) and confirmation (lighthouse) are out of order..i see why they did it considering the album is set in reverse … i guess it just depends on which way you listen to the album front to back or back to front ..but being thats my only gripe… it illustrates how great of an album this is..

  • mowe

    Can someone explain this part: “which leaves me headscratching about Blu’s remarks”

    What remarks is ? talking about?