JOHN LEGEND AND THE ROOTS
As a hip-hop fan, John Legend favors intelligence over bravado. Check out his terrific collaborations with Lauryn Hill and André 3000 for proof. On the lovely Wake Up!, Legend hooks up with rap’s smartest ensemble for an all-star jam session — and what a jam session it is, with aching harmonies and tasteful grooves supplied by the Roots. Legend may wear dapper suits, but he sounds like an old-school gritty soul singer. His take on Donny Hathaway’s “Little Ghetto Boy” strikes an unmistakable emotional chord. The rollicking soul-funk hybrid “Our Generation” could have been recorded in 1975, but “Wake Up Everybody” (which was originally recorded in 1975 by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, with Teddy Pendergrass on vocals) sounds like a call for peace in the tumultuous Obama era. Throughout the album these expert musicians never miss a step. Roots MC Black Thought lends his distinctly raspy voice to a few songs, livening things up with his brainy showmanship. Still, Wake Up!’s somewhat conservative vibe prevents it from reaching the highs of the Roots’ summer release, How I Got Over. Nonetheless, it’s nifty background music. —M.T. Richards
Follow us on Twitter: @clescenemusic
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at [email protected].
Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.