Review: Base Jump? The Roots moving away from hip-hop |

Review: Base Jump? The Roots moving away from hip-hop

Leave it to the Roots to realize that hip-hop needs a tuba player. In fact, the Roots’ prolific drummer, ?uestlove, introduced “Tuba Gooding Jr.” to the Squaw Valley audience at the 48 Straight event Feb. 8.

The tuba lent a different voice to the bottom end of a bass-heavy genre, and it’s actually not that surprising of a move for a hip-hop group whose music has long extended beyond the bounds of the genre.

In all honesty, it’s not entirely fair to call the Philadelphia-based Roots a hip-hop group these days.

Even though the six-piece group exhibited control of the genre early on, including a medley of Talib Kweli’s “Get By,” Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend,” Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya,” and Salt-n-Pepa’s “Push It,” it’s the Roots’ willingness to ignore any boundaries associated with hip-hop that makes the band intriguing live.

The party-friendly medley gave way to an extended version of Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War,” which evoked a different era under through the hazy confines of the large tent where the show took place.

With a modified “Star Spangled Banner” intro and the quintessential riff from Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused,” the song left the crowd a bit baffled as to what generation and genre the Roots represent.

But that’s nothing new.

The group did touch on some of its hip-hop hits, playing energized versions of “The Next Movement” and “The Seed (2.0)” to bring the crowd back, just in time to finish up with a hyperkinetic verse from the Roots’ always entertaining MC, Black Thought.

A female fan told me near the beginning of the show, “The worst thing about the Roots these days, is they don’t play enough of the Roots.”

And this might very well be true.

At the time, she was referring to the abundant cover songs spread throughout the group’s performance, but on that night the set would barely exceed an hour.

An hour is just not enough time to dig your Roots.

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