“undun” will be released December 6th.
“And what I did came back to me eventually,” narrator Redford Stephens, transcendently portrayed by Black Thought, posthumously intones in “Sleep,” the first track from The Roots’ 13th album undun. Death pervades undun; it follows Stephens, a poor kid from Philadelphia and victim to the drug trade, from the moment he surrenders himself to the game all the way to his inevitable end. Along the way, no verse is wasted, no optimism is spared; each line is like a shovelful of dirt on Redford’s coffin. At 39 minutes, undun feels like a lifetime, because it is one.
The album is gorgeously arranged by the incomparable ?uestlove, The Roots’ expert bandleader and producer, whose recent projects include the “Philly Paris Lockdown,” a reinterpretation of the works of the French impressionist composers Erik Satie, Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel. On undun, ?uestlove renders the lush modality of these composers in the vibrant hues of early-’70s soul music; the eerie, ghostly outro of “Make My” sublimates the drug dealer’s hopeless, nihilistic glory into misty Moog and starry synths in the vein of Stevie Wonder’s “Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You?).”
Head over to NPR to read the full article.