JIM WELTE. Writer. Editor.

The Roots: How They Got Over

To longtime fans of The Roots, there was something exhilaratingly fresh about the band’s two-hour set at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco late last month. That familiar Roots’ sound, jazz-inflected and grounded in the essence of hip-hop, was certainly front-and-center, louder than a bomb in the same hall where Michael Tilson Thomas conducts the acclaimed San Francisco Symphony. All of the familiar elements were there: Black Thought’s yeoman-like wordplay, Questlove’s dynamite back beat, the virtuosic instrumental solos, and the ability to mix bits of oft-sampled classics like the Incredible Bongo Band’s “Apache” and Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up” into its own tracks. The band played material that spanned from 1994’s Do You Want More?!!!??! to 2008’s Rising Down, and even mixed in some new joints from its forthcoming ninth studio album, How I Got Over.