I'm a little
relieved that this album is finished. The hard work is just beginning,
which is touring behind this record.
that going so far?
is, because we do about 200 dates out of the year, I never say, Ok, we're
about to go on tour. We're always on tour. The only time we truly do stop
touring is to make records. Right now the feedback is all that we'd hoped
for. Our audience is pleased with the results. The reception that we're
getting is pretty much what I expected it to be. Right now we're just
going to concentrate on the structure of the show and how we can make
it fit to maximize this record.
doing anything different with your live show for Game Theory?
the songs are different. I'm trying to take the Springsteen-esque shows
that are two to three hours and compact it to 90 minutes. It's hard to
do when you're trying to show all you can do in a short period of time.
As time goes on, we're noticing that the audience has more of an ADD approach
as far as spectating is concerned. For the time being, I'm just trying
to fit about seven or eight songs from our new album into our current
set list and go from there.
Theory come out how you wanted it to?
was exactly how I envisioned it. We almost had a close call with "Atonement."
I basically had to beg on my knees and talk to Thom Yorke from Radiohead.
I knew I had the respect of the Radiohead cats so they granted our wish
to us at the very last minute. We had a vision for this album and we executed
does Game Theory stand against the other Roots albums?
really hard question to answer. It's like asking what's my favorite fresh
air to breathe. I can't say what it is. There's always a challenge and
the challenge for me has always been how to pack the maximum amount of
punch in the shortest amount of time. It's easy to make a sprawling art
record when you have 79 minutes to spare, but it's way, way, way harder
to do the same thing when you only have a 45 minute window. It's really
hard to get your point across. You have to make it much stronger and much
more concise. The beauty of the challenge of this record, I feel, is more
or less the fact that we were able to keep it so somber. I'm not saying
there's no other album like this album in history, but this is 2006 and
what's commercially viable in 2006 is not this record. I feel like that
was risky enough to really make a statement and go with our hearts as
opposed to following what the marketplace has with us.
change on Game Theory with it coming out on Def Jam?
nothing changed. We always had complete artistic control of our product.
Sly and the Family Stone on "Game Theory." You also sampled
Sly on The Tipping Point with "Everybody is a Star." What is
it about Sly that brings out the best in The Roots?
artist whose work I'm very, very familiar with. When you're dealing with
an element you know inside and out, that lets you do different and creative
things to it. If you compare our version of "Everybody is a Star"
to the original "Everybody is a Star", the difference is night
and day. I knew the original so well that it enabled me to flip it in
a way that's translated as different because I was given license to do
whatever I wanted to with it. They just opened the door and because Sly
was so pleased with the song, as a reward, I was able to say, My real
dream is to do "Life of Fortune and Fame" which at that point
was just really unavailable on the marketplace. It was available on bootlegs
but not officially available for commercial release. When they gave us
the rights to do that and the masters, we made it happen. That was always
my dream song and always my No. 1 choice. The fact that they granted that
wish meant a lot to us. "Can we get that?" "No problem!"
nervous putting out "Don't Feel Right" since it's so different
from everything else on the radio?
No. We already
knew going in that this album is going to stick out like a sore thumb.
It's about putting your best foot forward. If you are not competing with
what is out there in the marketplace, then the very least you can do is
put your best foot forward, no matter what it is. I really don't believe
in singles. I believe in albums. The purpose of releasing that song was
to let people know the album was coming out. It wasn't to be on radio
and video shows. We just wanted people to notice the record was coming
out. I wasn't thinking necessarily if that song made sense next to "Shoulder
Lean" or any other songs.
it putting the J.Dilla tribute, "Can't Stop This", together?
an emotional rollercoaster. We had that song for the longest, even before
Donuts. It was still a J.Dilla tribute before he passed. He was going
through all that treatment and that just amazed us. That song is autobiographical
where we're talking about keeping true hip-hop alive. We were talking
about J.Dilla. He made some of the most groundbreaking hip-hop on his
deathbed. Once he passed away, we wanted to take the song even further.
We started from scratch and made it a celebration of his life and did
it in a way that was respectful and places him in the history books.
you remember most about Dilla?
was a person on earth who loved music more than I do. People who know
me know that I love music. They know I live for working. They know I live
for buying vinyl. They know I live for music trivia. They know I live
for pop trivia. They know I live for collecting pop culture memorabilia.
Dilla was twelve times crazier. I'm a person who tries to balance his
life and work, at least in a 24-hour setting. Maybe eight hours for me,
six hours for work, and maybe the remaining time for me. Not Jay Dee.
He was the only cat I knew besides Pharrell who gets up at 7 or 8 in the
morning to make beats I'm just going to sleep then. He was so focused
and concentrated that he would be done by the afternoon. That's how focused
he was. He would never leave that basement for nothing. I have to have
some sort of life, like go to the movies, talk on the phone, get on the
computer, go to MySpace, something
This cat always made music and
he used to always try to perfect his craft. I just never met somebody
so utterly committed to his craft as he was.
that he never got discouraged is amazing. I mean, if I was in his position
and got fronted on by the mainstream for ten years, that would have taken
a piece away from me. It seemed to make him better. He seemed to get his
juice from the fact that the producers loved him. The fact that he could
drive Pete Rock crazy with one beat or make me and Kanye go, Where'd you
get those drums from? Maybe that kept him going, the fact that he was
worshipped by the producers' producers.
Peedi Peedi an official member of The Roots?
us to be the first mode of transportation made in the music world. I consider
The Roots to be the first car. Everybody else is walking and using carriage
rides and horses. We have a little space in our car and if you want to
hop in the car for the journey, you're more than welcome. Peedi is going
to serve a year. We're going to start our American leg of the tour in
December and we're going to bring Peedi aboard and have him do a bunch
of shows and see what happens. The same position that Rahzel had, the
same position that Jill Scott had, the same position that Cody Chestnut
had, the same position that Martin Luther had, Peedi's going to have.
That's the fifth Beetle position.
Malik B doing?
cool. He's in Philly right now. He's working on his solo project right
come back to The Roots?
toured. In order to be in this situation, you have to give up your life
and that's a tall order. It's one thing for me and Tariq (Black Thought)
to do it, but it's another thing to ask Kamal and Hub and Knuckles and
Kirk to adjust to it. The difference between us then and us now is that
most of us are now with children. A lot of us are married now. 200 days
is a long time not to be home. My crib is nothing but a storage unit.
As soon as you walk into my crib you see sixteen luggage bags. None of
them get unpacked. I'm sure the clothes are growing mold and the sneakers
are destroyed. That's because I come home for one day. I say, I can either
catch up with my peoples or wash my clothes. My peoples always win. I
say, I'll grab another luggage bag and buy another round of clothes when
I tour around Europe. You say the same thing when you come home again
for two days. You compromise. That's not him. He can't see himself leaving
for nine weeks at a time or four months at a time in a country he's not
from. Some of us are built for it and some of us aren't. As long as he's
there to spit on the records, that's all that counts.
going on with Dice Raw?
Dice is not
a root. Think about it like Wu-Tang. Cappadonna is not a member of Wu-Tang.
He might be there, he might not be there. We got Dice playing A&R.
Because we have so much material, the way the music is judged is we'll
work out some stuff. What happens to that hard drive that has sixteen
hours of jam sessions is Dice will listen to it and we'll talk about it.
We kind of got Dice in an office job, so to speak. He's the Karl Jenkins
that's credited as the A&R on The Roots album.
happened to Cody Chesnutt?
away from it. The thing is, you have to be careful what you wish for.
There are a lot of cats who choose to have a revolutionary approach to
their music. We can do all the revolutionary talk we want, but at the
end of the day no matter how revolutionary you are, you're still playing
the man's game. You have to decide whether or not you want to shake hands
and kiss babies. I guess after four months Cody decided he was becoming
the person he hated the most. There's a very independent nature about
his music. He's the one who shared "The Seed" with us. Once
he got into the industry, it just left a bitter taste in his mouth so
he stopped and he walked away.
Beanie Sigel/Roots collaboration on the horizon?
has my favorite flow in the tri-state area, him and his whole clique.
To me State Property was the heir to the Wu-Tang throne. You had six,
seven, eight individuals that all had very unique flows and very unique
voices. That's something that you can't find. Nine times out of ten you
see cats that are grafted off whoever the most popular dude in the group
is. They try to base their style on that. It's really ironic because Jay-Z
would be the man to follow and pretty much any other batch of MC's would
look at Jay's situation and try to base their shit off of that. I think
that Jay looked at their situation and took them off that. Beanie, Freeway,
Oschino and Sparks and Young Gunz, they had a very, very unique approach
to the craft of emceeing. To see all those flows be that unique, that's
very, very unique. That's a very, very rare thing.
still in touch with Scott Storch?
haven't kicked it with Scott in a long while. He's very, very busy with
his projects. We're still under the same management but as far as us just
kicking it back and that type of stuff, nah, not really.
could shoot a video today for "Never Do What They Do (Part 2)",
how would it be?
loaded question! We actually flirted with the idea of doing a sequel to
it. You also have to understand the age of the million-dollar video has
eluded us. Videos are now at the lowest budget they've ever been at. The
cliché ideas are sort of played out now. I think the million-dollar
videos ended in 2000, 2001. I think Aaliyah's "Rock the Boat"
was the end. I believe the million-dollar video ended in September of
2001. Everybody and their mother scaled back after that. It's kind of
hard to poke fun at trends that are nonexistent nowadays.
you want to say to everybody?
At this rate,
I just really, really want to bring awareness that this album is out.
More than anything I just really want to bring awareness that this album
is out in the marketplace and it's one of The Roots' strongest albums
to date. You don't need a hot video or a hot song to get banged over your
head twelve times a day to say that.