The Roots – And Then You Shoot Your Cousin Album Review

I like most of the The Roots’ albums but I’ve loved the last two. Let’s see what I think about this one…


Theme From Middle Of The Night
A start that you might skip the first time but listen to this one. Its perfectly placed to start the story along. Talk about a somber tone. Love Nina Simone.

Only the lonely love
Only the sad of soul
Wake and begin their day in the middle of the night
To breakfast on their pride
Where joys and tears just dried
To breakfast with the moon
In the middle of the night
Then to cut once more, my miserly hoard
Of your kisses in this darkness restored
To grasp your absent grace
In desperate embrace
To make your false heart true
Middle of the Night…The night

Never f Patty Crash
The voice of Patty Crash is hypnotic and for me, is one of the high points on this track. The slow drum loop with that sinister baseline sets the mood just right. Black Thought’s one verse is all that is needed, its strong. Description of a hopeless reality for an individual with no real next step. Line for line, as your head bobs slowly in tune with the beat, Black Thought set the tone of the album for whats to come.

Waitin’ on Superman losing all patience
Gettin’ wasted on an everyday basis
I’m stuck here can’t take a vacation
So fuck it, this shit is damnation
This is reality mane
Ain’t no surprise I’ve been bangin’ without any mane
What is this gotta be brave
When into the night I’m going to go quietly mane
Life is a bitch and then you live
Until one day by death you’re found
I tried to keep both of my feet on the ground
But I know my head is surrounded by clouds
Spirallin’ down, destined to drown
Forever is just a collection of nows
Off on my own, nowhere is my home
Approaching infinity’s fork in the road

When The People Cheer f Greg Porn, Modesty Lycan

Greg Porn’s verse, smh. Tough, just tough I say. Where do they find these singers? Their voices are unique, the choruses are meaningful and very well done. The same can be seen on Undun and How I Got Over. Case in point. The song is excellent but there is a sadness when you think deeper about it. What is illustrated is what we see everyday from people these days. Its reality, unfortunately. Nonetheless, they did a good job of painting this common picture.

Am I a douchebag or just another doo-rag?
Tryna get ahead on some brand new-wave shit
For your entertainment money is the language
So every time I speak I’m tryna make another payment
I do ‘em dirty, sleep and get a dirt nap, that works
Tell my P.O. ask me where I work at
Think I woulda learned that sleeping in the bird trap
Living on the run like somebody tryna burn fat
I don’t give a fuck, now maybe that’s abstinence
Or the arrogance of someone who ain’t got shit
That think money over bitches is a stock tip…

Black Thought’s last line sum it up, “She keeps providing the place for me to be unfaithful at…” which I believe is not only about the women he speaks on his verse but something more perhaps. Life?

The Devil

“The devil looks a lot like you and I”

Connecting the story.

Black Rock ft Dice Raw
Something is missing here from the beat. Yeah, I’ve heard it before too.  The beat has no real punch, mostly during the verses. The sample is big, every other element should follow accordingly. That’s a minor critique. Black Rock is a day to day portrait for this fellow they are describing who can’t seem to ever ‘do right’

One thing I know all I did is wrong
Maybe there ain’t nowhere I belong

I damn with animal anguish
So love no bitch die richer than language

Understand f Dice Raw, Greg Porn

This is the first song i heard from the album. First thoughts was whats with this chorus? its interesting. I still haven’t quite figured it out. It plays on top of that organic tune, I like it. The more and more I delve into the lines, the more I realize that Black Thought and Greg Porn are a problem on the mic. The descriptiveness here is impressive.

Love is like a harlequin’s romance
Lost between sips of liquor, that empty bottle in my hands
It was a shot away, but I never got away
Dreamed a little dream of me, but that was an anomaly

I pray, I pray, All Dogs Go To Heaven
Or to a new hell with a Wi-Fi connection
So I can pay for my sins on PayPal
Or own a holy ghost, a greyhound

^^^Come on man, smh

Dies Irae
Hmmm, the sounds are nice. Sample worthy but not sure how this one connects the story.

rootsThe Coming – f. Mercedes Martinez
This feels like the dramatic turn in a story, at least musically. The strings are heavy here and they evoke emotions. The singer says ‘bracing for the fall’….’I have seen it all’…..we’ll see how this sets up the following tracks. I have been letting the album play through and failed to realize the first time that this was even another track. Just a sign to let you know how this is connecting, song by song. At times, unnoticeable.

The Dark (Trinity) f. Greg Porn, Dice Raw
As soon as the track starts, I get a sad feeling. As if I am walking through a cemetery or something, this is an eerie production to say the least. I found myself chasing the hi hat. The last few minutes of this album have done a good job of pulling you into the feeling of the album, a strategic move I assume. More exquisite wordplay

Black Thought:

Niggas lose their lives sad
Rockets in their flight path
Breaking bad, making bad
Choices out here thinking fast
Smoking wet and drinking bad
Soaking wet and sinking fast

I’m a nigga, other niggas pale in comparison
We out in Paris yet but still a nigga perishing

Greg Porn:

In a jungle made of concrete, every animal Jumanji
On Eazy-E and PCP, ass-cash or EBT
How you monetize pigeons on a power line
On a road to the riches every dudes a dollar sign
I don’t mind, I don’t mind, long as all the smoke is mine
And the liquor store delivers faster than a Papa Johns
And I heard that def-ass caller money’s on the other line
The last episode of Good Times is my life

Dice Raw’s verse sounds how a typical rapper raps these days. Check the cadence, you will recognize it after the first few lines. He nails the inpersonation.

Yeah I sold crack to get my soul back
They say it’s gonna cost a fortune
And I wonder if Allah take debit?
‘Cause a nigga got real bad credit
If not I ain’t got a whole lot so a nigga like me just can forget it

The Unraveling f Raheem DeVaughn
The first minute or so is instrumental….slow piano rhythm, echoing snares. My favorite part is Raheem DeVaughn’s – he blended perfectly with the mood of this track. A man with no fuuuuuture. A small thought in my head would say this sounds like a Foreign Exchange type of track. During my first listen, I thought that was Phonte singing. the chorus states, ‘I die here within….to be reborn again……I’m somebody new today.’ Did the character die or did he finally ‘wake up’? Hmmm.

What did the thief say onto the hanging man?
“Here come the hounds, lay your burdens down in advance”

Tomorrow f Raheem DeVaughn
Its a new day. The beat immediately lets you know. Its a happy sounding production, sounds like a musical, Little Orphan Annie ish. Its ok until the beat changes into a more elegant sound that I like. Glad it switched up. Raheem DeVaughn keeps my attention with the truth he’s singing about. Gratitude, contentment, and understanding to name a few.

Some say that happiness will never find you
Until you find yourself
Some say that happiness is all around you
It ain’t how you measure your wealth
No, I say it’s free to be yourself
We all fall short sometimes
It costs nothing
It costs nothing, to help sometimes

That pretty much sums it up.

Conclusion: I didn’t expect to like this album as much as I did. After the first listen it was a good, after more dissection, it was great. It doesn’t sound like How I Got Over and Undun, but The Roots managed to be experimental while maintaining the standard quality of their music. The lyrics stood out more to me than anything else. Their core fans will like it and the new fans will be impressed. Its a short album, bout 30 mins. You will ask yourself “Oh, its done already?”. Yep, but don’t worry you will be full from this plate. I don’t think I heard a bad verse. Go line for line and think about what they are saying/describing and you will see what i mean. There’s a meaning behind it all. So sit back, relax with a hot beverage, And Then You Shoot Your Cousin is a great album. It’s worth the purchase.

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