Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)
Amidst a hectic schedule that includes a full-time gig on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, America’s favorite hip-hop band The Roots somehow found time to make a new studio album titled …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin, and are gearing up to drop it on May 20th (pre-order on iTunes here). As a longtime fan who has fond memories of copping all their albums dating back to Organix (this is their 16th record overall and 11th studio LP), I’m thrilled to see how far The Roots have come in their career. They’ve managed to cross over into the mainstream media spectrum and still remain relevant with the purists, which we all know is not an easy task. It’s been a long road traveled since their days coming up in Philly, but somehow, The Roots always make it feel like they’re just getting started.
Bottom-line is, The Roots—led by their supreme MC Black Thought and drummer/bandleader Questlove—are too talented to ever front on. They’ve proven how nice they are on stages all over the world for two decades, killing live sets in abundance and continuously pushing the envelope of innovation on their studio LPs. So for our latest Video Vault, we thought it would be a good time as the anticipation builds for their latest release to time travel back to the ‘90s and watch some classic clips of The Roots performing their early hits on television programs both in the U.S. and abroad. Roll the tape!
1. “Proceed” (Live on The Jon Stewart Show)
Well before Jon Stewart became the host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central and a household name, he had his own talk show on MTV which featured celebrity guests and musical performances. And in support of their breakout sophomore album Do You Want More?!!!??!, The Roots appeared to perform its second single, “Proceed.” The one and only Rahzel the Godfather of Noise opens up the number with a brief beatbox intro, before Black Thought and the band get busy for the MTV audience (check for the ill beatbox breakdown midway through too). Now this is how you rock the mic, kids. And shout to Dice Raw in the back playing the stage like a stoop, we see you. But where’s Malik B?!
2. “Mellow My Man” (Live on Taratata)
The internationally known Roots Crew made their way across the pond to perform another Do You Want More?!!!??! cut and fan favorite “Mellow My Man” live on the French show Taratata. Malik B is once again missing in action, but it’s all good because Black Thought impressively spits both MCs’ verses for the song back-to-back with the swiftness, as Rahzel holds down a supporting role as hypeman/human sound machine. It’s a fun, open-floor performance, with people dancing on stage to Quest, Hub, and Kamal’s groove as Thought tears the mic to shreds. Very dope.
3. “Silent Treatment” (Live on Late Night with Conan O’Brien)
Pardon the poor VHS-recording quality, but this “Silent Treatment” performance is too dope to leave off our short-list. It’s actually kind of an ill effect, similar to the one we saw director Rik Cordero use purposely on Action Bronson and Party Supplies’ recent video for “Amadu Diablo.” And audio-wise, this is about as crispy as a new pair of Jordans fresh out the box. Nice job with the hook, Rahzel! And props to Conan for giving The Roots a major late night look early, that’s what’s up. This is a fantastic rendition of one of rap’s smoothest and most heartfelt love jawns. Ain’t nothing worse than the silent treatment, right fellas?
4. “What They Do” (Live on Nulle Part Ailleurs)
Here’s another overseas clip of The Roots rocking on a French television show, but this time, it’s circa Illadelph Halflife, and they’re giving the Nulle Part Ailleurs viewers a taste of their groovy single “What They Do.” It’s amazing how effortlessly Black Thought, Questlove, and the crew blam these jams live. Calling them the best hip-hop band of all-time really isn’t an exaggeration, and this performance is more proof for you and yours out there in denial.
5. “The Next Movement” (Live on Later… with Jools Holland)
You’ll notice that Rahzel has now been substituted with fellow beatboxer Scratch here, but the rest of the band was still in tact as The Roots served the UK crowd at Later… with Jools Holland a helping of the hot mu-sic, the hot mu-sic. Press play above to set “The Next Movement” in motion, and big ups to Things Fall Apart for celebrating its 15th anniversary earlier this year!
*Bonus* “You Got Me” ft. Erykah Badu (Live on Woodstock ‘99 Pay-Per-View)
Back when festival streams were only available via Pay-Per-View television, The Roots touched the stage at the 30th anniversary of Woodstock concert in 1999 to join fellow hip-hop acts like DMX and Ice Cube in representing the genre for the upstate New York crowd and those tuning in at home across the country. And their homegirl Erykah Badu made a cameo during their set to perform their smash Things Fall Apart single “You Got Me” together. There are other live television performances of this song floating around the web featuring Jill Scott and others on the hook, but it’s always good to give props to the OG version.
Previously: Video Vault: Action Bronson Prepares 5 Delicious Dishes | Video Vault: 7 Classic Yo! MTV Raps “Live Fridays” Performances | Video Vault: 14 Artists Promote Their 1994 Album Releases onYo! MTV Raps | Video Vault: 10 Hip-Hop Artists Go Shopping at Amoeba Music| Video Vault: 5 Underappreciated ’90s Posse Cut Videos | Video Vault: 5 Classic Snoop Dogg Performances of Doggystyle Songs | Video Vault: 10 Classic In Living Color Performances | Video Vault: 10 Classic Showtime at the Apollo Performances | Video Vault: The Top 20 Rap Videos of 1993 | Video Vault: 5 Classic Wake Up Show Freestyles | Video Vault: 5 Pre-Reasonable Doubt Jay-Z Videos | Video Vault: 7 Classic Smack DVD Clips