The Roots - Illadelph Halflife
Illadelph Halflife represented an advancement in hip-hop that had been a long time in the making. Like Gang Starr, A Tribe Called Quest and the Wu-Tang Clan, the Roots sought to widen hip-hop's scope with their debut album, Do You Want More?, which incorporated live instruments and a jazzy funk feel. Critics praised it, but the band's positive messages didn't quite get through to rap's core audience (nor, it should be noted, did the Fugees' the first time around). It was as if the band had started teaching before its students were listening. With Illadelph Halflife, the Roots have opted for a closer relationship with the boom-bap sound of true hip-hop, and they've managed to do so without letting go of the elements that made their debut special. Vocalists Black Thought and Malik B. still inject lyrical science into their rhymes, and here they're joined by fellow rap-educators Q-Tip (on Ital), Bahamadia (Push up ya Lighter) and Common Sense (Universe at War). With Illadelph Halflife the Roots should finally make a very significant mark on the world of hip-hop.