May 19 In Hip-Hop History: The Roots Drop Debut Album 'Organix'

The Roots

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Once you press play on The Roots’ Organix album, the first sound to come through the speakers is the jazzy bassline played by Leonard Hubbard and upbeat taps from Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson’s drums -- which never fails at attracting open ears. Then, Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter jumps on the mic and drops a quick yet hard-hitting 16 that gives a brief background on the Philadelphia-based rap band.

“You can't deny the props so stop before your fronts,” Black Thoughts raps. “Get loosened, introducing, The Roots y'all.”

It’s been nearly three decades since the world was formally introduced to The Roots. On May 19, 1993, the rap band from Philly released its debut album Organix independently. Black Thought holds down the mic throughout the record with assistance from Malik B while Questlove churns out unforgettable drum patterns and a young Scott Storch produces mesmerizing tunes on the keyboard.

The 17-track album was released while the band lived overseas in London. Although it was only for a brief time, they developed a major following in Europe before the crew returned to the U.S. to continue their music career. The Roots, who was formerly known as ‘Square Roots’ but had dropped the first word from its name a year before the album dropped, showcases every band member’s individual talents in every song and skit on their first LP.

Black Thought flaunts his in-depth lyricism by delivering incredible verses in “Pass The Popcorn” and “The Anti-Circle” over Questlove’s catchy drums, which are prevalent throughout the album. He relates to every subway rider with his brief poem on "Writer's Block." Meanwhile, Hubbard effortlessly pulls on his guitar strings as Storch provides soothing notes in “Leonard I-V” and “Essawhamah?” There's no way to forget “Grits” and “The Session” aka the “Longest Posse Cut in History,” which introduces us to Malik B (Rest in peace).

“Yes, I will address the press about my microphone mess-iah/Am the best, sire? Yes, I am most quick to go because I'm equipped to flow a script,” Malik B raps on “The Session.” “I will just slay and disobey, I will display banana clips.”

The album is a rare offering of the rap band’s original sound before the band signed its first record deal in 1994. It offered plenty of refreshing, jazz-inspired melodies that stood out during the Golden Era of Hip-Hop. Nearly 30 years later and 10 albums later, Organix has stood strong as the backbone of The Roots’ legacy.

Listen to The Roots’ Organix album below.

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