There isn’t anything much better than a music album that manages not only to integrate two genres of music: the rocking styles of the 70’s and the hip-hop of the 90’s and early 2000’s. Elvis Costello recently released his newest album “Wise Up Ghost”(W.U.G.), but it isn’t a traditional Costello record. This particular album features collaborations on every track with hip-hop band “The Roots”.
Elvis Costello has been criticized after his past few newly released albums, but W.U.G manages to prove his critics wrong. Songs like “Walk Us Uptown”, “Come The Meantime”, and “Viceroy’s Row” are three of the songs that manage to demonstrate the sounds that Elvis Costello/The Roots team were aiming for: intriguing musical production yet keeping The Roots’ style of simplicity. Additional to The Roots playing their traditional style of music, they also manage to grasp the raspy sound that is Elvis Costello and take an entirely new direction towards Costello’s modern productions.
If Costello’s voice isn’t what it used to be, then what makes this album so special? The answer is in the music itself. The Roots (previously known for: Phrenology, Game Theory, and playing as the house band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon) have held up the musical side of the collaboration to the best of their abilities. On the down side, it may not have been their all-time best album instrumentally and it definitely lacks in rap verses from Roots MC Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter. The entire album is composed only of Costello’s raspy vocals which became overdone by the end of the record. None the less, the production makes up for a decent amount of what is lost. After all, we can still always rely on the Root’s drummer, Ahmir “?uestlove” Thomspon, for his trademarks of consistently strong, interesting beats and groovy, old-school style instrumentation.
The Roots are that underrated, behind-the-scenes rap band that have always managed to produce highly praised, entertaining music. Winning multiple Grammy awards, The Roots still manage to maintain their original underground fame/style of music. With their more recent legacy, in addition to the 50-year long stardom that Elvis Costello has maintained for himself, has intertwined to create a musical “dream-team”, and creating a very solid, consistently entertaining piece of work.