The Roots – American hip-hop, neo-soul, and jazz rap band
The Roots was formed in 1987 in Philadelphia. The initial lineup consisted of a vocalist Black Thought, a keyboard player Questlove, and a rap vocalist Malik B, who left the band in 1999. Only the first two members of the initial lineup are still with the group. They met while still attending high school. The musicians showed off their skills at the local talent show. They called the band Square Roots. However, the name was later shortened to The Roots due to a conflict with another group.
In 1993, after signing a contract with DGC Records, the group released its debut LP, Organix. The second release under Cargo Records occurred in 1998. The album climbed to the 93rd spot of Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart.
Between the release of the first and the second LP, the group was joined by bass guitarist Rubberband (Josh Abrams) and Leonard 'Hub' Hubbard, rap vocalist Kid Crumbs (Kenyatta Warren), and keyboardists Kamal Gray, Scott Storch. and Nikki Yeoh.
In 1995, the band presented the second studio LP, Do You Want More?!!!??! The album climbed to the 2nd position of US Heatseekers Albums Chart, reached the 22nd spot of Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart, and settled on the 104th spot of Billboard 200. The album featured such popular singles as "Distortion to Static", "Proceed", "Silent Treatment". After the release, many organizers tried to book The Roots for private events.
In 1995 and 1996, beatboxers Rahzel and Scratch joined the band. A rap vocalist Dice Raw was also invited to perform with the group. At that time Rubberband, Kid Crumb, Scott Storch, and Nikki Yeoh have already left.
In 1996, The Roots recorded a new LP, Illadelph Halflife. The album’s guests were Amel Larrieux, Cassandra Wilson, David Murray, D'Angelo, Steve Coleman, and Graham Haynes. The album came in 4th on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and climbed to the 21st position of Billboard 200.
The next LP, Things Fall Apart, presented in 1999, appeared on the 2nd position of Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart and came in 4th on Billboard 200. The LP settled on the 7th spot of Canadian Albums Chart. The key single of the LP “You Got Me” became a hit and appeared on high spots of many charts.
The group released one more LP in 2002. They called it Phrenology. The singles "Break You Off" and "The Seed (2.0)” became extremely popular in the USA, the Netherlands, France, Germany, the UK, and Denmark.
In 2004, The Roots recorded The Tipping Point. It featured such hits as "Star" / "Pointro", "Don't Say Nuthin'", "I Don't Care", and "Boom!". The album appeared on the 2nd spot of Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart and came in 4th on Billboard 200.
In the early 2000’s, the lineup suffered many changes. The group invited a guitarist Captain Kirk Douglas, a bass guitarist Ben Kenney (who stayed with the band until 2003), a drummer Frank “Knuckles” Walker (who left in 2017), and a vocalist Martin Luther (worked in 2003 and 2004).
In 2009, the artists presented Game Theory. The album came in 9th on Billboard 200, climbed to the 5th position on Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart, and settled on the 4th spot of Top Rap Albums Chart.
Two years later, the group released one more LP, which they called Rising Down. By that time, among the artists were a trumpet player Tuba Gooding Jr. and a bassist Owen Biddle, who left the band two years later.
In 2010, The Roots came up with two albums, How I Got Over and Wake Up! The latter was recorded with John Legend. In 2009 and 2011, the group welcomed a keyboardist James Poyser and a bass guitarist Mark Kelley.
In 2011, together with Betty Wright, the group presented an LP, Betty Wright: The Movie. The same year, they released Undun. Both albums were successful. Two years later, the musicians collaborated with Elvis Costello to present Wise Up Ghost. The latest LP to date, ...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin, came out in 2014.
In 2017, Stro Elliot joined the band, and the musicians announced the release of the next LP, End Game. However, the fans are still waiting for it to arrive.
Throughout its 30-year career, the band earned numerous prestigious awards and nominations The Roots hold three Grammy Awards and 12 Grammy nominations. They also earned three NAACP Image Awards.
Even though the band doesn’t tour as extensively as it used to, the musicians still perform live. The Roots has a tight schedule because, since 2014, they are an official band of The Tonight Show.