By taking the sounds traditionally produced by old-school DJs--spare breakbeats, scratch squiggles, burly bass lines--and recreating them in the organic context of a traditional live band, the Roots presented themselves at once as visionaries and rigid traditionalists. In the process, they also helped raise the barometer of possibilities for rap in a live context.
The Roots rose out of Philly, where lyricist Tariq Trotter (Black Thought) and drummer Ahmir-Khalib Thompson (?uestlove) attended the Philadelphia High School For Creative And Performing Arts with members of Boyz II Men, as well as bassist Christian McBride and organist Joey DeFrancesco, both of whom would go on to become jazz stars. In 1989, the two organized a loose-knit crew of rappers called the Foreign Objects and started playing gigs in Philly as the Roots. The members' familiarity with styles outside of hip-hop became evident as the band evolved, and by the time they dropped Organix (released independently ... Read full biography