1993. The Roots proceed to Germany for a concert and industriously
decide to record an album to sell at live shows. Indie
label Remedy Records releases it; called Organix. As part
of their European excursion, they all cram in a London
1995. The Roots graduate to Geffen, or
what Black Thought called it, "sharecropping", and release the album
Do You Want More?!!!??! At the height of the industry's
over sampling phase, this album includes none. Instead,
they rely on new group member human beatbox Rahzel the
Godfather of Noyze as well has guest jazz artists Joshua
Roseman, saxophonist Steve Coleman and vocalist Cassandra
Wilson. "Proceed" and "Silent Treatment" become
hits. The Roots' live show gets further exposure on the
second stage at Lollapalooza and the Montreux Jazz Festival
in Switzerland, originally made essential by Miles Davis
and Marvin Gaye.
1996. Quickly reloading after their major
label debut, The Roots release Illadelph Halflife,
starring the popular
single "What They Do," whose music video is hailed
as one of the most eloquent and innovative of all time.
The Roots' renaissance begins. Keyboardist Kamal Gray and
human turntablist Scratch become members of the band.
1999. Commercially, things come together
with the release of Things Fall Apart. The album soars
close to platinum,
selling 900,000 copies, and included the Grammy-winning
hit single "You Got Me," featuring Eve and Erykah
Badu, written by Jill Scott.
Even as they are excelling in the stores, The Roots showcase
their strength on stage with the double concert album The
Roots Come Alive.
At the same time that their commercial base expands, they
create one for other people.
Along with the Jazzyfatnastees and Jaguar Wright, they
organize the musical salon Black Lily which gives Beanie
Sigel, Bilal and Musiq their first shine.
2000. The Roots win the Best Rap Performance
by a Duo or Group Grammy for "You Got Me" and
back up Jay-Z for his MTV Unplugged special.
2001. The Roots support Moby on his Area One Tour.
2002. The Roots release their sixth album
Phrenology. Black Thought's lyrics are their most personal
The 10-minute plus "Water" anchors the album.
It's a message to now-former group member Malik B. about
his descent into drugs and is the luxuriating and ambitious
type of song not heard since Issac Hayes' dropped sitcom-long
compositions. Amiri Baraka, Nelly Furtado and Cody Chestnut
co-star, and for the first time added punk and 80s R&B
influenced guitarist Ben Kenney to the mix to hone a rock
edge. Kenney goes on to play with Incubus. Rolling Stone
proclaims that with Phrenology, The Roots created a "blueprint
for twenty-first-century pop music."
2003. The Roots attend the Grammys, in honor of their
nominated album Phrenology and to back up Eminem's performance.
Having completed several years of the Okayplayer tour and
?uestlove having produced for D'Angelo, Christina Aguilera,
Justin Timberlake, Macy Gray and Joss Stone, The Roots
begin work on their seventh album. Harkening back to the
golden era of jazz and their method of recording The Roots'
first album, ?uestlove, Black Thought, Hub and Kamal create
their latest opus through a series of jam sessions with
artists that fortuitously pass through Philadelphia. The
exchange of ideas, long sessions and loose vibe create
unexpected results. Guest musicians - Brooklyn-based guitarist
Captain Kirk (Kirk Douglas) and percussionist Frank Knuckles
-- collaborate as well. The band replay jam session tapes
and develop songs from the cells within.
2004. The jaam seeeeeeeessions gain momentum,
catch fire and form songs. Finally, there is enough
album, but not too much. ?uestlove, citing that his favorite
albums are under 35 minutes, limits the opus to 11 tracks.
The band names it The Tipping Point, based on the Malcolm
Gladwell book, expecting the sum of their good work since
1987 to finally push them to their own epidemic of success.
Scott Storch returns from producing songs for Dr. Dre,
Christina Aguilera and Beyonce to orchestrate the electronic
first single "Don't Say Nuthin.'" The chorus
defies the rules of rhyme-along hooks: it's largely mumbled
and inaudible. Black Thought assumes multiple roles in
the video, executive, old man, kid rhyming in the street,
representing the myriad influences on the album as a whole.
The album features Jean Grae, Martin Luther, Devin the
Dude and Dave Chappelle in an appearance on "In Love
with (The Mic)" and an homage to Sly and the Family
Stone in a "virtual" duet on "Everybody
Is a Star."