The major label debut of the Legendary Roots Crew was a gamechanger in early 1995
The Roots became a hip-hop ensemble, but in the beginning it was just Black Thought, ?uestlove and Malik B.
Together they would take what groups like A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul were doing around in the early 90s, and add real instrumentation and crafty lyrics to create a different and more complete hip-hop/jazz fusion.
Thanks to the buzz over their self-released debut, Organix! (1993), the Philadelphia based hip-hop group landed a record deal with Geffen and two years later released their major label debut. Do You Want More?!!!??! (1995) is nothing short of brilliant. One of the group’s most revered records, it gave listeners a real glimpse into the musicianship of hip-hop.
Unfortunately, due to a fire at the Universal Studios backlot in 2008, the masters, along with many other classic albums, were destroyed.
The record was different from any jazz infused hip-hop that preceded it. From the very start you could tell it was different. “Intro/There’s Something Going On,” was listed as track No. 18 (continuing from where Organix left off) and is broken up into two parts, the latter of which features Black Thought laying down rhymes to the plucking sound of the stand up bass.
“Proceed” is the type of track that stays with you, whether you want it to or not. It’s a song that it is so repetitive and rhythmic that it’s almost subliminal, practically embedding the chorus into the minds of its listeners.
The Roots showed how they can even sample a laugh track and turn it into a jazz beat, which is exactly what they did with the album’s lead single, “Distortion to Static.”
The track, along with several others on the album, also helped introduce the world to super producer/songwriter, Scott Storch, who began his career as the group’s keyboard player, before going on to write such legendary tracks as “Still D.R.E.” and “Lean Back.”
The record was also mixed by Bob Power—who they mentioned by name in the lyrics for his role as an engineer on The Low End Theory and other golden era hip-hop classics.
“Lazy Afternoon” is a fan favorite. Its mellow jazz vibe and soulful melody are perfectly matched by the sound of singer Rachel Graham and The Roots resident beatboxer, Rahzel a.k.a. “the Godfather of noise.”
Black Thought continues by tapping into a more introspective side, with tracks like “What Goes On (Pt. 7),” wherein he details how he wrote his first rap song when he was just nine-years-old.
The album also serves as an introduction to some of The Roots’ frequent collaborators, such as ELO the Cosmic Eye and Philadelphia rapper Dice Raw, not to mention such renowned artists as jazz singer/songwriter/producer Cassandra Wilson and spoken-word poet Ursula Rucker.
Do You Want More?!!!??! didn’t really receive its due recognition until 2015, when it became gold certified by the RIAA for selling more than 500,000 copies. It went on to become the group’s first to climb the Billboard 200 charts—but it would certainly not be their last. Illadelph Halflife and Things Fall Apart would later surpass it, peaking at No. 21 and No. 4 respectively.
AUDIO: The Roots Do You Want More?!!!??!