Friday, March 14, 2008

The Rising Down Album Cover Is Genius Subliminal Healing

Update below

April 29th.

Tracklisting provided courtesy of and MTV:

RISING DOWN Track List below.

Questlove annotation in (parentheses), and yes, we realize some of this might be a little too rap-nerd fan-boy:

· The Pow Wow [Intro] (The 1994 meeting between Black Thought, Questlove and former Roots manager, AJ Shine, after they got threatened with being dropped from their record label)

· Rising Down [with Mos Def and Styles P] (and Dice Raw on the hook)
· Get Busy [with Dice Raw & Peddi Crack & Jazzy Jeff]
· @ 15 (Tariq freestyle at 15 years old)
· 75 Bars (Reconstruction) [with Tuba Gooding Jr.]
· (Up Theme) Becoming Unwritten (instrumental)
· Criminal [with Truck North (a Philly MC bubbling under) & Saigon]
· I Will Not Apologize [with Porn (another Philly MC bubbling under) & Dice Raw & Talib Kweli (on the hook)]
· I Can’t Help It [with Malik B & Porn] (This is Malik B’s response to The Roots’ song “Water”)
· Singing Man [with Porn (as Virginia Tech-like Shooter) & Black Thought (as Sierra Leone youngin’ soldier) & Truck North (as suicide bomber)]
· (Up Theme) Unwritten [with Mercedes Martinez]
· Lost Desire [with Malik B & Talib Kweli]
· The Show [with Common]
· Rising Up [with Wale & Chrissette Michelle] (p.s. Wale says “this is not a go-go song”)
· Birthday Girl [with Patrick Stump]
· HIDDEN TRACK: Live at WPFW (Howard University), 1994
· HIDDEN TRACK: The Pow Wow 2 (end of the phone conversation)


Just peeped Illmami's post about this cover at Soulbounce, and realized not everyone is likely to get what I mean when I say this image is therapeutic. She mentioned there may be some controversy with the cover. She's probably correct. It seemed to me I should update over here to clarify for those who might not get the point my post makes in its little worded simplicity.

Here's my take on the power this image has in this day and age (taken from my post comment):

I see the cover as having therapeutic value. It's a reminder of the reality we've faced, and also seems to be the Roots saying (to racist factions): I'll be dat, but you won't like me when I'm angry.
Maybe I read to deeply into it, but it was my first reaction. With Mos Def's Black Boogeyman track, and Nas' 'provocative' album title, I see a community desire to overcome these images that have been psychologically damaging for too long. These brothers are onto something, and not in the ignorant sense associated with the n-i-g-g-a phenomenon.
The criminalized and demonized images of black people are so deeply ingrained in Americana, yet many folks turn away thinking maybe the problem will go away if they don't look and pretend its not happening. This album cover faces the problem head on.

I embrace your views on the topic.
Feel free to discuss, and disagree.
This is an important movement and we may see many more
shocking political acts coming from artists and masses in general.


Vee said...

I dig the cover.
The Roots has a history of using their covers to say a little something instead of the boring 1-2-3 photo shoot of the entire group, just like the cover for Things Fall Apart.

I think it is hard to attack Questlove's position on the image. There are far worse images that this culture has produced. At the end of the day, it is an image that will hopefully stir constructive criticism or productive discussion.

The coded language and implicit phrases and thoughts used often in politics is something that should be examined. The Roots directly address their intent in using this image.

PurpleZoe said...

Your wrote:
"The coded language and implicit phrases and thoughts used often in politics is something that should be examined. The Roots directly address their intent in using this image."

In a society where so many have used the coded symbolism to the detriment of others without fessing up, there shouldn't be a problem with someone utilizing symbolism and being honest enough to stand by their imagery while willing to educate others on their position.