Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Roots: Things Fall Apart [MCA, 1999]
Stop the violence in hip hop, but make an exception if these guys will shoot the piano player. Kamal gets away with his omnipresent ostinato beds here mostly because the band is looking back to the old-school rap they loved before they discovered jazz lite. They even sample now and then--I've never been so happy to run into Schoolly-D in my life. What's so consistently annoying on their earlier intelligent records is almost hooky on this one, integral to a flow that certainly does just that, which isn't to say you won't be relieved when it rocks the house instead. Gee--maybe they've gotten more intelligent. B+