Label: Def Jam Recordings
Much like The Roots' 2011 album undun, this suite is an orchestral blues about people at their breaking point. Greek chorus-like vocals by Patty Crash, Raheem DeVaughn and Mercedes Martinez underline that this is a societal tragedy, but DeVaughn's "Tomorrow" offers optimism, too. Meanwhile, Black Thought, Greg Porn and Dice Raw personify the characters' frustrations on "Understand" and "Black Rock," perhaps the album's most straight-up hip-hop track. This is an art piece that rewards repeat listens, but its studious idiosyncrasies may dissuade some from making the journey.