Musical powerhouses John Legend & The Roots' fiery new offering, Wake Up!, features soulful music from the 60's and 70's all with an underlying theme of awareness, engagement and consciousness — effectively telling listeners to Wake Up!
Inspired by the recent historical Presidential election campaign of 2008, Legend and The Roots felt a need to enter the action. What started as plans for a single quickly developed into a passionate album representing change, hope and activism — not only referencing one particular moment in time, but on a larger scale, holding true no matter what the political climate may be.
The resulting album features eleven profoundly evocative songs infused with sounds of gospel, rock and reggae inflections with hip hop influences. The album is highlighted by familiar tracks like "Wholly Holy" by Marvin Gaye and "Little Ghetto Boy" by Donny Hathaway mixed with the more obscure selections of Baby Huey and the Babysitters' "Hard Times," and "Hang on in There" by Mike James Kirkland.
"These songs sound so relevant now," Legend says. "On most of them, you wouldn't change a lyric. "Wake Up Everybody" (the album's first single, featuring contributions from Melanie Fiona and Common) has four verses—the first one is a general statement, the second is about education, third is about health care, and the fourth is about making a better environment. No editing needed."
The album features one original composition, Legend's song "Shine," which is featured in Academy Award-winning director Davis Guggenheim's upcoming documentary film Waiting for Superman. The song, a "Stevie-Wonder-meets-gospel" stunner, clearly demonstrates the strengths of this specific group of musicians. Wake Up! blends Legend's expressive, thoughtful vocal interpretations with an element of funk that only The Roots can provide.
John Legend & The Roots will be performing live 9/23 @ 9 PM EST.
Directed by Spike Lee
Hard Times feat. Black Thought
Wake Up Everybody feat. Common and Melanie Fiona
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Hang On In There
Humanity (Love The Way It Should Be)