If you are my age, you remember when it seemed like every hip hop album was an explosion of black intelligence and creativity, from the works of Public Enemy to De La Soul to Rakim. But the music has done a 180, going out of its way to ignore its roots. It seems that most current mainstream hip hop artists (with some notable exceptions, such as Nas and Jay Z) are modern day minstrels, acting out old black stereotypes for the amusement of what have become primarily white consumers. It is pathetic, and a part of me wishes hip hop had died in the late 80s like everybody thought it would. But this Roots album is a breath of fresh air, going against the grain, discussing the reality of inner city violence without glorifying it, intelligently rapping about politics, and reminding us that there are words that rhyme other than “crunk” and “drunk”. The lyrics are awe-inspiring and personal, and the production is fantastic. Having been a hip hop fan for over 20 years, but having been completely turned off in the past few years, I want to thank the Roots for reminding me why I loved this type of music in the first place.