How I Got Over
Label: Def Jam Recordings
If the Roots’ 2008 album, Rising Down, was a moody and minimalist screed, then How I Got Over is a lament. The music is wistful, with introspective guest vocals from Blu, Phonte Coleman, and even Joanna Newsom heightening gems like “Doin’ It Again” and “Radio Daze.” Despite a wealth of strong material, including the impressive title track, How I Got Over has a nagging downbeat tone, even as the Roots wander from ballads to arena rap via “The Fire” (with John Legend). But it is not defeatist. As Black Thought raps on “The Fire”: “I’m the definition of tragedy turned to triumph."