The Roots faded to black for their melancholy concept album, undun. So when Captain Morgan approached hip-hop’s greatest band for an up-tempo, rock-oriented flip on the liquor brand’s theme song, Jimmy Fallon’s house troupe leapt at the opportunity.
“Even though we’ve done everything under the sun in the last 20 years, people still have this mellowed-out perception of us,” says Questlove. “The fact that Captain Morgan wanted a high-energy singing track, they didn’t have to ask me twice. I welcome any challenge.”
The resulting record, “To Life, Love & Loot (Remix),” [download here] features Black Thought crooning over Captain Kirk’s guitar, Tuba Gooding Jr. on the sousaphone and Quest’s percussion.
“It’s so hard to get Tarik to sing, but to get him out of character for anything is a win in my opinion.” Questlove says. “It took about four hours to really find our comfort zone and hit on something that sonically sounded natural.”
It took quite a bit longer for the Roots to whip up their upcoming 11th LP undun, which will be released on Dec 6. The record focuses on the demise of fictional character Redford Stephens, and is told in reverse chronological order. “We Tarantino’d it—started at the end and worked our way towards the beginning,” says Quest. “We tried it both ways but it definitely felt better this way."
He continues: "This is definitely something you have to sit with and absorb. To me, that’s the mark of a good chef: I like TV dinners too, but sometimes I like a well-cooked meal and that just takes more time.” —John Kennedy