Midweek Music: The Roots

Nas, Q-Tip and the Roots on The Tonight Show, April 2014

Nas, Q-Tip and the Roots on The Tonight Show, April 2014

Even if you can’t identify The Roots by name, chances are you’ve been hearing their music in the background for a while now. They create a soulful, jazzy variation of hip-hop that backs up Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show. Before The Tonight Show they were Fallon’s backup band for nearly five years on the Late Night Show. (A lot of shows here.)

Jimmy Fallon must have recognized that outside of the hip-hop community, there was a lot of oversight for such an incredibly talented band. Fallon’s decision to take them on has hugely helped The Roots gain mainstream recognition, while we all enjoy some quality music during a sarcastic resemblance of the news. But the The Roots have a rich history pre-Fallon, and have been rocking since many of us weren’t even potty trained.

The Roots started out in Phili, first coming together in 1987. Somehow it still feels like overnight they came suddenly started playing sets with our heros, like Nas (for all you Boston Calling attendees). Or covering our summer sing alongs, like Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” (only using school instruments mind you).

Who knew the recorder and kazoo would be so impressive? They even created a full length album in 2010 with John Legend called Wake Up! All eight band members are musicians in the traditional sense of the word: they focus on creating sounds with live instruments, instead of relying on music composed on computer with someone else’s recordings. They still produce and record full albums too, so if you like what you’re hearing, check out what they have going on outside of 15 second transitions during The Tonight Show.