Do You Want More?!!!??!

The Roots

Geffen, 1995

REVIEW BY: Jedediah Pressgrove

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/10/2010

I can’t say why Do You Want More?!!!??! was recorded, but I have a dubious notion that The Roots were huge A Tribe Called Quest fans.

For example, after listening to “Distortion To Static” a few times, the stuttering vocal loop reminded me of something, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Later, I happened to listen to “Electric Relaxation” by A Tribe Called Quest…yeah, almost the same vocal loop.

But wait, there’s more. Questlove drums for The Roots (though he was known as B.R.O.THER ? on this album). Quest. Hmmmmm.

Biblical characters Shadrach and Meshach are mentioned in both Tribe’s Midnight Marauders and Do You Want More?!!!??! (Abednego, who completes the fiery furnace trio, only shows up in the former.)

Oh yeah, there’s this line from “Lazy Afternoon,” four tracks after “Distortion To Static:” “Now it’s 3:37 and I still ain’t left the rest / ‘Electric Relaxation’ from A Tribe Called Quest.”

I knew it!

Once you get past this outlandish conspiracy stuff, the jazz rap of Do You Want More?!!!??! can be enjoyed – the cool tracks anyway. I don’t like using the word filler, but it perfectly describes some of these, uh, songs.  my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The album opens with an obligatory (translation: boring and unnecessary) introduction before hitting a nice groove with “Proceed,” “Distortion To Static,” “Mellow My Man,” and “I Remain Calm.” Don’t look for a message in these tracks other than “We can outdo you lyrically and performance-wise,” which isn’t a bad claim given the evidence: “I make emcees dangle like a bangle / Strangled from every angle / My lingo jingles and it dangles.” At the same time, Black Thought and Malik B. don’t call out names and have a very improvisational feel throughout this album, so the trash talk is more or less lighthearted and fun, even on a darker track like “Distortion To Static.”

But lightheartedness can also be a weakness. “Datskat,” “Lazy Afternoon,” “? Vs. Rahzel,” and “Essaywhuman?!!!??!” (recorded live) are way too off-the-cuff, and “Lazy Afternoon” is the only one out of the bunch that comes across as a song to me. I’m sure some people get into these tracks, but they lack good lyrics, and while The Roots are always solid instrumentally, that doesn’t mean the music is interesting beyond a “What the hell is this?” level. “Swept Away” is more of a structured cut, but the theme from the introduction abruptly ends the regular tune…I still don’t get the point. Perhaps the only bright spot in the middle of the album is the title track, but my appreciation of it doesn’t go much farther than thinking it’s neat to hear bagpipes work well in a rap song.

Thankfully, the album’s last fourth is relatively strong. “You Ain’t Fly” may not be important or deep, but you get to hear Questlove rap a verse (he has a cool voice), and the song’s verse instrumentation – particularly the keyboard and bass – is excellent (boring chorus, though). “Silent Treatment” is another throwaway song, but “The Lesson Pt. 1” has eerie and effective background vocals, along with rapping from fifteen year old Dice Raw, who is surprisingly impressive. The final track, “The Unlocking,” is angry and provocative, with a crushing spoken-word performance from Ursula Rucker.

Although Do You Want More?!!!??! isn’t a sophomore slump, it has a piddling midsection and doesn’t consistently show what The Roots are capable of. Some of these tracks are great, but one shouldn’t take the material too seriously for the most part. It’s interesting hearing these guys play around with the style A Tribe Called Quest pioneered, but this release isn’t essential.

Rating: B-

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