The Roots drop "Understand" the third leak off their concept album '...and then you shoot your cousin'

The Roots drop “Understand” the third official leak (there are no singles on this album! but you can check “When The People Cheer” and “Tomorrow” or stream the whole thing here if you don’t mind dealing with an annoying proprietary player) from the forthcoming opus …and then you shoot your cousin.  Single or not, this is definitely one of the most quotable tracks on the album, mostly because of the hook “people ask for god ’til the day he comes /see god face, turn around and run / god sees the face of a man / shakes his head and says ‘man’ll never understand’.” But each of the three assembled MCs brings some lyrical brass knuckles with them as well. Exhibit A: our beloved Black Thought‘s “I let to devil in to dance / an Electric Slide across the line I drew in the sand.” This maybe the most straightforward statement of the album’s ghetto existentialist gospel, the bleakest truths of the Black American experience–call it the “Motherless Child” syndrome–projected onto a sense of cosmic abandonment. Nobody said it was the feel-good movie of the year–but it still might be movie of the year. Stream below, and try to understand:


  • Jack

    Minor note: I’m relatively sure the lyric is “I led the devil in a dance…” – amazing how Black Thought can so subtly crush a verse like that.

  • Dev DallasCowboy John

    slayed it

  • As a Christian and a fan of the Roots, this song brought a few things to my attention. I definitely think that true to the concept of the album, this song speaks to the negative stereotypes that “religion” plays in minority (black as well as Latino) communities as a source of disillusionment and control. The chorus stands out because it speaks to the fact that we never truly understand what God plans for us, and we spurn God because he doesnt give it to us how we want it, when we want it and not to our timing. “people ask for god ’til the day he comes /see god face, turn around and run / god sees the face of a man / shakes his head and says ‘man’ll never understand” in my opinion, this speaks to the fact the we only seek God when its convenient to us, but we run scared when its not to our liking because we cant either face the truth or refuse to accept it, and we think we know better than Him. This album permeates, in my opinion on that theme and how we place many false idols before God.

    Musically, this song and album really speaks on how there is constant evolution with this band and their discography should stand as a benchmark for the state of hip hop and how they went against current trends at the time and how they have never conformed to them, this album being a prime example. No one is really touching Black Thought at this point of his career and this is him at his apex…. definitely an enjoyable listen.