Don't Say Nuthin'

label: geffen

production: scott storch, the roots

year of release: 2004
1. Don't Say Nuthin - Radio Edit; 2. Don't Say Nuthin - Instrumental
Well, this was unexpected to say the least. The Roots, once revered by fans as the antithesis of everything that was shiny and artificial in commercial hip-hop production, have joined the fray of their keyboard-loving counterparts with "Don't Say Nuthin'", the lead-off track from their upcoming full-length 'The Tipping Point'. With its Knight Rider-esque staccato squelches, Kraftwerky synths and dancefloor-friendly drums, "Don't Say Nuthin'" boldly goes where no hip-hop band has gone before in successfully emulating the futuristic sound of The Neptunes, Timbaland and Dr Dre. Not surprisingly, The Roots have called in former keys man Scott Storch to lend a hand on the production end and, fresh from crafting h ip-pop hits for the likes of Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera and Beyonce, he definitely knows a thing or two about the jiggy genre. Still, despite his Midas-like ability to turn quirky clavinet chords into chart gold (and platinum), Storch may have a hard time convincing die-hard Roots fans that his sound is the way forward for their favourite instrumentalists.
Despite the disappointing direction Questlove and co appear to be heading in with "Don't Say Nuthin'", Black Thought still rips shit up on the mic, sounding even hungrier than he did in the 'Do You Want More?!!!??!' days. He kicks the track off with a fierce multi-syllabic blow to the eardrums, bringing 'that almighty amazing ill highly contagious kamikaze/sound splash like a shot from a gauge into your body,' before comparing his crew's struggle to get that music industry dough to that of a stick-up kid on the streets of Illadelph, and telling label CEOs to 'cut the check' in the midst of a marvellously mumbled chorus. At this point, one wonders if "Don't Say Nuthin'" is a genuine play at chart success or merely an ironic joke - perhaps by employing a club-ready backing track under Thought's money-making sentiments, The Roots are having a sly chuckle over modern-day hip-hop at the listener's expense (and if the single does blow up, so much the better). Whatever the case, Thought shows his heart is still in the right place with the line, 'It ain't nothing like the rush I get in front of the band/on stage with the planet in the palm of my hand.' After all, The Roots are, at the end of the day, a stunning live band, and will probably remain so long after the lukewarm "Don't Say Nuthin'" has faded from radio play.
review: chris v
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