- Justin A. Williams
Hip-hop group. Founded in 1989 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, it was cofounded by rapper Black Thought (Tariq Trotter) and drummer Ahmir “?uestlove” (pronounced Questlove) Thompson, who became friends at the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. Rather than using samples to create backing tracks, the group has always created its hip-hop beats with a live drum kit, bass, synthesizer, and guitar, among other instruments. Other members have included producer Scott Storch (keyboards), Malik B (rapper), Hub (Leonard Hubbard, bass), Rahzel (beatbox), Scratch (beatbox), Ben Kenney (guitar), Knuckles (percussion), Kirk Douglas (guitar), and Damon “Tuba Gooding Jr.” Bryson (tuba).
The Roots’ first album, Organix (1993), was self-produced for promotional purposes and sold during a European tour. Their major label debut album (on DGC Records) was Do you Want More?!!!??! (1995). Although there are no samples on the album, the music resembles that of jazz rap groups such as a Tribe Called Quest, particularly on the tracks “Mellowmy Man” and “Datskat.” Over the years, the Roots have striven to maintain a balance between artistic integrity and commercial success, perhaps often to the detriment of the latter. One of their biggest hits was the single “You got me,” which featured Erykah Badu and was cowritten with fellow Philadelphia native Jill Scott. The group takes pride in its energetic and inventive live shows; New York and Paris concerts were captured on the live album ...