Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Roots: . . . And Then You Shoot Your Cousin [Def Jam, 2014]
With Questlove forswearing all songwriting, with Black Thought sharing the few true raps with benchwarmers Dice Raw and Greg Porn, with cameos and guest tracks and goddamn musique concrête bringing the runt up to weight, with the moral burden of the climax handed over to a neosoul obscurity who lost his label deal in 2010, feel free to slot this 33-minute "concept album" as half-assed product squeezed into their bizzy schedule. Historically, that may even be how it happened. Yet musically it coheres better than the ass-and-a-half Undun--a touching, upsetting meditation in which a sketchy gangsta wannabe embodies the limits of all striving. Every time the musique concrête squelches in, I remember how fraught the world is. Every time Raheem DeVaughn croons about our need for angels, I feel thankful for what I got. A-