"Organix" was the debut album release from the Philadelphia Hip Hop band, The Roots. Released in 1993, the LP was the first recording from them since being formed in 1987 in their hometown, and having them toured much of Europe with their original take on Hip Hop. Clearly, if you are aware of early Hip Hop groups, then you would have to compare them with the first Hip Hop band, Stetsasonic, however, they failed to create as much hype as this legendary group has.
The Roots crew in this 1993 album consisted of the drummer, (?uestLove), the MC (Black Thought), the bassist (The Rubberband), keyboardist (Scott Storch) and other MCs (Malik B and Kid Crumbs). Others since then have come and gone, and it's important to point out that Black Thought and ?uestLove are the founders as former school mates, and went on to recruit others as they played on the streets as The Square Roots.
1. "The Roots Is Comin'"
This is an exciting opening to the album. It beings with the lead MC, Black Thought, creating tension by whispering a chant of "The Roots Is Comin'", before a drum roll, and then ?uest gets funky with the percussion. Thought is able to introduce the group by bigging up their ends of Philly to the greatest etent to which is possible by playing around with the name of the city before describing the actual place.
2. "Pass the Popcorn"
I haven't got a clue what is meant by the phrase "Pass The popcorn", but it is chanted throughout this recording from the group. I assume that this is one of their first proper tracks as the contiunally stae the name of the crew to be The Square Roots (which they dropped prior to being signed to DGC Records). It also sounds quie early as you hear the drummer, ?uestlove, getting a chance to spit some lines.
3. "The Anti-Circle"
Altough it's diffuclt to pick out specific from this particular track, you are able to hear a great tune which has Thought rapping about being "Square" (whatever he means by this). It is all done up-tempo, I felt that this motivated Thought to get busy in a different way to what had been heard before, a form whcih is a lot more lively.
4. "Writers Block" (Lude)
5. "Good Music" (Lude)
6. "Good Music"
Here we have a track which has the group expressing their passion for the music whihc they perform, in particular Soul and Hip Hop, which is the blend which you get throughout the album. Thought's line delivery is as exciting as ever before, a style whihc no one could match (although Kid Crumbs tries in other parts of the album), and as he talks about where he got his influences from, you feel as though you are present with him as he grabs inspiration at the Soulshack.
This is a six-minute-long track whihc is all dedicated to the corn-based food grits. I was amazed by Black Thought's initla burst of rhymes, which play around with the word itlsef before he expands upon it. This sounds like a freestyle, more than rhymes which would ahve been written-down, but I wouldn't say that this ia a bad thing as this improc suits the accompanying Jazz sound of the band.
8. "Leonard I-V"
To me, this was the weakest track on the album, it isn't really because I could find faults in it. It's more to do with that there was little to make it stand out from the rest of the album. Overall it is an unmemorable one, but you will appreciate the chemestry between Thought and ?uest in particular.
9. "I'm Out Deah"
This is one of the most Jazzy tracks by the group on "Organix", and I believe that this smooth recording would work just as well without Black Thought's raps as it would convey similar themes through the instruments alone. I found that Thought's MCing had to be valued though becuase he is so refreshing when you compare it to others of today, but even back then in 1993 when there were other Jazz rappers, such as those in the Native Tongues Posse, he stil sounded original.
This is a live recording from The Roots at the Philly club, the Loveshck, and it is one of the most exciting tracks on the album as it gives you the impression that you are in the audience as you hear hought play up to the fact that he has taken influence from Jazz and so you get him scatting as he rpas and introduces the line-up of The Roots crew for this particular session.
11. "There's a Riot Going On" (Lude)
12. "Popcorn Revisited"
This didn't help me anymore in working out the menaing of the phrase "Pass The Popcorn", however continued to use it here for the 'Revisted' version of their first single. I wouldn't say that it's as strog as the first version of it, but I enjoyed hearing what they did with the original as they sounded as if they were performing an improv based upon the original concept, making it all sound relaxed, yet controlled.
13. "Peace" (Lude)
14. "Common Dust"
For me, this one sounded to be the most Hip Hop track in album (if that's the best way to put it_, altough it is heard through the rest of the LP, but here the build-up of "Common Dust y'all, and it don't stop" invites you into a track whihc focuses on this specific genre. I felt that the way in which the instrumens were played complimented it as they pulled up the instrument to emphasise certain lines just as in a typical Hip Hop track. However, the content of the instrumentals, especially the guitar, helped to display that they are clearly an alternative Hip Hop act.
15. "The Session"
This is a live recording for The Roots and their guests who accompany them for this tune. It is a refreshing track as you have them playing nearly thirteen minutes worth of Jazzy Hip Hop, with some call-andresponce to liven you up for what cold have been a long, dragged out track, but it isn't and you have them contiually hyping up the atmosphere as they do what they do.
Although it's quite calm an mellow, you do fell excited throughout as so many MCs get the chance to show off their lyrical talent, and there is never a dip in quality, even when Brother ?uest steps up to the mic(rophone). The highlight of it was the final verse though as it was when Black Thought returns for another rap and it makes you realise how different he is from all other MCs out there.
16. "Syreeta's Having My Baby" (Lude)
17. "Carryin' On" (Outro)
This is a quality album from The Roots, and one of the most consistant Hip Hop albums which I own. There is very little to fault it on as even the little interludes allow the recording to flow more naturally. Black Thought kills it in terms of the MCing, so much so that Malik B and Kid Crumbs don't seem talented enough to join him at this stage in their careers. The way in which Thought adapts to the Jazzy backin which he gets from the band displays that he is aware of the direction whch the group are taking, however he doesn't make it sound as monotonous as other Jazz rappers do.
Apart from one track on the LP, this one is perfect, and to any fan of The Roots, its a must-have as they perform here in their purest form, under no guidance from a record label or having any producer composing their material.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Roots Is Comin'
2 Pass The Popcorn
3 Anti Circle
4 Writers Block
5 Good Music (Prelude)
6 Good Music
8 Leonard IV
9 I'm Out Deah
11 There's A Riot Going On
12 Popcorn Revisited
14 Common Dust
15 Session (Longest Posse Cut In History)
16 Syreeta's Having My Baby
17 Carryin' On