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Undun / [edited] Clean

4.6 out of 5 stars 97 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Clean, December 6, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

CLEAN. 2011 release, the first conceptually-based album from The Roots. Undun quickly reaffirms the creativity of the outfit that are notorious for pushing the envelope. The album's first single is "Make My" featuring Big K.I.R.T. Undun is an existential re-telling of the short life of one Redford Stephens (1974-1999). Through the use of emotives and Redford's internal dialogues the album seeks to illustrate the intersection of free will and prescribed destiny as it plays out `on the corner'. Utilizing a reverse narrative arc, the album begins as the listener finds Redford disoriented--postmortem--and attempting to make sense of his former life. As he moves through its pivotal moments he begins to deconstruct all that has led to his (and our own) coming undun.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (December 6, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Clean
  • Label: Def Jam
  • ASIN: B005VR92SS
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #547,548 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Dear Music Appreciators,

I come to this album as one who knows nothing of The Roots beyond the few dozen times I've been flipping channels and decided to watch a bit of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Based on their work on that show I knew they were an incredibly talented and versatile band, and this, their latest studio album, is simply further evidence of that fact.

Unlike many of their more popular peers, this is not simply a vehicle for a few hot singles with some filler in between. This is a real "record" in that old school sense of the word - a collection of carefully crafted songs that go well together and are meant to be experienced in order, one after another. This is the kind of record that would sound best on a record player, or at least on a Discman with some big ol' headphones while you're pounding the city pavement or shooting down a subway line.

On their late night television gig The Roots are a band that flies high above the anchors of musical genre and this album is no exception. This is not really just a rap album or a hip-hop album or a soul album or a funk album or a pop album or a rock album, it's...well, it's a ROOTS album. And it's something of a concept album, centered around one Redford Stephens, who happened into a life of crime in inner-city New York and died at twenty-five.

The album opens with Redford dead, moves backwards to explore his story, and ends with four short, hopped-up. classical sounding instrumental tracks - a sort of "Redford Stephens Suite" to memorialize the fallen character.

While there are rhymes and beats to please even the most primitive music fans, this is essentially rap-infused, art-flavored hip-hop for smart people, and as such it succeeds beautifully, so why not buy this now and plant The Roots latest album in your mind to see if it will grow a little?

Sincerely,

Constant Listener
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The Roots tenure in the music business spans much of hip hop history from the late 80s, through the 'golden age' of hip hop, to its current state of affairs. Each of their albums has a different tone, and this is by far the darkest and most poetic. A 'concept album,' undun tells the story of a poor kid who thinks he's making the right decisions, but gets drawn deeper into the drug game until he's killed. Yet the story is told in reverse, kind of like Pulp Fiction.

As a Roots fan since Do You Want More, this album inspires me. Their musicianship is perhaps better than it has ever been. Quest and Co. are experimenting with lush classical tones amid the boom-bap-blip, especially on the album's closing suite of four instrumental songs. The MCing is inspired. Black Thought is ill, and more precise than ever. Great guest spots from the likes of Greg Porn, as usual, and haunting hooks and verses by Dice Raw.

As much as it inspires me, it also depresses me. That's the point. The Roots are making real art here, a work with a poignant message that can be interpreted on many different levels. For me, they are telling a dark story that contains a message about life's value and how humans cannot survive faced with only bad and worse choices.

The stand out track for me is Sleep, which marks death. The music is so weird and hard hitting. Almost like something from Portishead circa the mid-90s. The lyrics and the imagery of falling leaves create a mood of bittersweet release.

I'd recommend this album to anyone who likes hip hop but yearns for something beyond the sophomoric slogans that dominate the genre these days. It might be dispiriting thematically, but simple pop doesn't wake people up.
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
The Roots continue to prove that they are the most consistent music group out there. Even some of their older albums that were perhaps not as good as we might have liked, were still leaps and bounds better than seemingly 80% of the other music out there.

In my time of doing reviews on my blog I've only given four albums a perfect five rating. The Roots' album from last year, How I Got Over, their collaboration with John Legend "Wake Up", Hidden Beach Unwrapped Volume 1 and "The Carnivale" by Wyclef Jean, which remains today one of my top 10 albums that I've ever heard in my life.

Today The Roots get the fifth 5 Rating (and third album to get that that they are involved with). I've been a fan of the Roots for a long time, having come to them via D'Angelo who is my favorite artist. I heard some collaborations that he had done with them in some live recordings that I have and was just hooked.

Here you have a rap group that's an actual BAND. They play their instruments, and they play them well. It's not often you come across a hip hop band, but the Roots have been putting it down for hip hop in a serious way for years now and show no signs of creative drop off.

Never more clear than on their newest album "UnDun" which in a first for the legendary Roots Crew, is a concept album. Undun chronicles the life and death of Redford Stephens who embraces some bad choices in his life and ends up paying the ultimate price for it, and tells said story in reverse.

The album begins with his dying and works it's way back to the beginning of the story -- the end of the album.
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