The Roots let loose some more raw sonics from their new record …and then you shoot your cousin with the release of “The Dark (Trinity.)” This one is a definite bone thrown (overhand, shuriken-style) at the rappity-rap contingent of The Roots fanclub, containing, as I noted in our recap of the Public Theater event–what is arguably Black Thought‘s most chillingly on point verse on the whole project:
“Mountain high and valley low / river wide and tunnel deep /I have traveled chasin’ demons screamin’ / all I find, I keep / If you don’t pay like you lay alright okay / that’s fine with me / I’m a display my heat and say my peace and lay you down to sleep / ain’t nobody tell you clowns to speak / I’ma AK you down the street.”
Equally deadly verse from Dice Raw and Greg Porn underscore what to me is maybe the most under-remarked facet of &TYSC amid all the balloon animals and operatic ambitions. By disassociating the MCs up from being their normally more reflective selves and writing in the voices of the outlaw characters which inhabit the world the album creates, The Roots may have created a lyrical monster. In the person of Black Thought specifically, they set one of the Top 5 all-time rappers loose in murder mode, unleashing an onslaught that is closer to what you’d expect from a Mobb Deep cut circa 1994 than a Roots track. The results are spectacular, if not downright scary. Although many first listens have noted the relatively sparse placing of bars in between instrumental interludes, it may be just now sinking in that the verses that are on here are among the toughest of any Roots LP–hell, any anybody LP. cousin may be The Roots anti-rap statement but they undoubtedly raised the ante for raps in making it.
The rhythmic bed for the track suggests the same Mobb-back spirit. Leaning on a hypnotic loop of bass piano notes like they were 808s and turning the sustain up to infinity, in counterpoint with impossibly crisp drums from Questlove, “The Dark” makes a striking contrast with the previous leaks “When The People Cheer”, “Tomorrow” and “Understand”. Listen below and hit the link to cop the whole album.