NPR recently allowed anyone to stream a full copy of the Roots “Udun” album a week or so before release. Being a huge a Roots fan, I plugged in my ear buds and listened intently over the work computer and felt underwhelmed. I listened to the stream again over the iPod and it didn’t change my opinion. It wasn’t a bad album, but definitely seemed too avant grade and lacked the overall feeling that I’d expect from a Roots album. While I appreciated what they were trying to do, the tracks felt stale.
When the album officially launched on Dec 6th, I played it while driving to work. Driving with the music surrounding me at an extremely loud level enabled me to appreciate what the Roots accomplished on this record. This a concert. A concerto of the desperado. This is a live show with a concept dictating not only the song sequencing, but the up and down emotions of each song. And it’s something that you can’t feel when you’re listening over a computer and on a portable device. You need to FEEL it.
The next time that you get a new album (am I the only one that still does?), make sure that you listen to it in an environment that immerses you in the moment. Yes, this usually means ditching your iOS and android devices – don’t be ashamed! As much as your overpriced Beats by Dre headphones with the sound turned up to 11 may achieve the same effect of a car stereo, you just may wander into the street into the path of a crazy Black man in a Honda Civic.