The Roots Undun Review

The Roots, hip-hop band from Philadelphia, hit us with their thirteenth album. Undun is a concept album that tells that story of a drug dealer whose life is cut short.

The album’s smooth sound is a mix of lounge and classical music. If it weren’t for the rapped lyrics, the album would probably be considered something closer to neo-soul. I don’t mean for that to be in an insult. The music is very melodic and, for the most part, seems like something you’d find playing in the background of some chic restaurant that specializes in cocktails and mood lighting.

Instead of the typical gangster swagger and glorification of the “street” lifestyle often found in rap these days, Undun one paints more of a story of a person who is on their own, struggling with his situation. Songs like “Lighthouse” attempts to portray the solitude of having to live the dog eat dog lifestyle of a drug dealer trying to move up in the world. Some of the lyrics talk about having to off a friend because it needed to be done to continue dealing. In a way, it attempts to humanize someone who would otherwise be demonized.

Undun does slow down quite a bit toward the middle. Some of the tracks are interludes, done in classical style – strings included. In between interludes, songs don’t do enough to differentiate themselves. I found my attention wandering after hearing several similar sounding songs in a row.

Party-goer opinions

Adam: “The music is very melodic.”

Lauren: “Would I listen to the whole album over and over? No. But there was one song I really liked.”

Verdict: Overall, people seemed to like the mellow sound of Undun, but wouldn’t put the album into regular rotation. The lyrics were a little polarizing. Some people thought the explicit language wasn’t necessary to tell the story. As with all concept albums, the strength of the idea behind the album is what helps to propel it to success. Undun doesn’t stray far from telling its story, but the short life of a drug dealer just wasn’t strong enough to keep my attention for 14 tracks.

Videos from the album:

“Sleep”

“Stomp”

“Make My”

“Tips the Scale”