I said this was one of my favorite albums of last year during the ten days of what I think was hot this year thing. I of course was short in detail about this and all those albums, Wake Up is just pure Funk, Soul with a bit of Jazz to it. John Legend and The Roots not only did cover songs but the more socially conscience songs of back in the day from artist who back then weren’t afraid to deliver such music. This could have been some cover songs of love songs or just random songs the parties involved could really make hot, these guys had a mission with this album. John Legend has single handedly taken the mantle of activist artist and no one is really paying any attention besides those groups and organizations he’s helping and fellow artists who share that vision like U2 and many more rock groups than R&B and Hip Hop… Sad shit, I know.
The album is hands down flawless. The remake of “Wake Up” is more string instrument induced than the original which used the guitar more during the verses but that main part of the music that made the original funky still shows up. Melanie and Common show up to help round the song out and add a nice vibe. “Straighten It Out”, you know the song Pete Rock and guest on this version CL Smooth resurrected when Pete used the sample and title for their version of their song which is a classic. Well John Legend and The Roots didn’t really stray to far from the source material as they did musically with the Donny Hathaway classic “Little Ghetto Boy”. Legends voice really suites “Little Ghetto Boy” perfectly and The Roots get really funky on here matching the emotion the vocals give off. To have Black Thought follow Malik Yusef spoken word kinda made it odd, one of the brothers could have come in around the end. The old school change up mid way through a song that was heard on so many 70’s social songs shows up as the crew gives us “Hang On In There”. The jazzy soulful “Wholy Holy” is just hands done one the highlights on here to me. I can see the John Legend doing any kind of music he chooses to if and when he chooses to do whatever music he wants. Not only does Legend come off great The Roots really showed me something with this song just because is the slowest song on the album I have never really that I know of heard them (The Roots) get it poppin like this (I know ?uestlove had a hand in the Voo Doo by D’Angelo but not sure if the other members of the band played a role on that album). After the a 11 minute fly by of ‘I Can’t Write Left Handed” (really I felt like that was the fastest 11 minutes I have ever heard) you get two songs that help bring the second half of this album home. One of them is “Shine” which as slow as “Wholy Holy” but The Roots seem to turn up the fact they are there on this song.
This, like I said this song is great and I still haven’t ran into anyone who has this album or knows about it really. It would be nice to hear more R&B that sounds like R&B and not watered down Rap music, but what can you do? I’m glad this is album is getting love within the blogosphere even if those who don’t frequent blogs know about it. If you get a chance to check this album and buy do it.