The Roots’ last solo album, 2011’s undun, chronicled the rise and dramatic downfall of a middleman in the drug trade. On the forthcoming follow-up, the Philly representatives will shift focus to tackle the contradictions and psychological intricacies of their own industry, the hip-hop game. Lead single When the People Cheer can be seen as bridging the gap between the two worlds, depicting a pair of characters whose mindsets echo rap’s emphasis on sex and money, despite the fact that they’re broke and romantically unsatisfied. Roots affiliate Greg Porn opens with a 16 from the standpoint of a struggling street tough, and Black Thought follows him up with a verse narrating the myriad affairs of a “sex-addicted introvert” with a woman back home. To accompany their bars, the crew’s instrumental contingent create a pensive backdrop fueled by delicate piano arpeggios. And Then You Shoot Your Cousin is slated to drop later this year via Def Jam. In the meantime, of course, fans can keep it locked for further singles off the set.
UPDATE: We’ve added the Joe Baughman-created visuals for When the People Cheer.