Bust it, La Di Da Di, who likes to party
Like Slick Rick The Ruler I’m cooler than a ice brick
Got soul like those afro picks, with the black fist
And leave a crowd drippin’ like John the Baptist….
(“Mellow My Man”)
For today’s throwback album review I’d like to shine some light on Do You Want More?!!!??!, the spectacular second studio album (and major label debut) from everybody’s favorite progressive hip hop jam band, The Roots, coming straight out of Philly; last week marked both the 22nd anniversary of the American release of the album as well as the 46th birthday of core founding band member, producer and virtuoso drummer Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson, who in the years since has come to be known as one of the music industry’s most brilliant and beloved personalities (as a compelling journalist in addition to his work as a musician). This joint was initially released overseas in October of 1994 before it hit shelves in the United States a few months later.
Building on the demo/jam session-esque nature of their 1993 independent debut Organix, ?uestlove and lead emcee Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter (one of hip hop’s all-time most underappreciated lyricists!) stepped things up quite a bit on here, creating a dope exercise in hip hop and jazzy live instrumentation with assistance from supporting emcee Malik B., keyboard wizard Scott Storch, bassist Leonard “Hub” Hubbard, human beatbox extraordinaire Rahzel and others. As The Roots’ music has progressed over the years, the band’s lineup has gone through many changes and their overall sound has proven to be eclectic while still maintaining the fun, free-spirited and organic formula that made them great in the first place.
Do You Want More?!!!??! is perhaps my personal favorite Roots album; a top-to-bottom classic that sounds best when played all the way through. As such, choosing the best moments on here is a rather difficult task, but some that stand out to me the most include the melancholy love story “Silent Treatment”, the crowd-pleasing fan favorites “Lazy Afternoon”, “Mellow My Man” and “Essaywhuman?!!!??!” (the latter being a callback to the band’s improvisational jam session roots (ha!) that would likely translate even better in a live setting), “The Lesson Pt. 1” (featuring the debut on wax of longtime Roots affiliate Dice Raw, a teenager at the time, kicking an impressive one-take freestyle opening verse; also one of Rahzel’s finest beatbox performances), the solid singles and opening numbers “Proceed” and “Distortion To Static” and the title track (which is one of few instances where I can tolerate bagpipes, on a hip hop track or otherwise). Additionally, the album closer “The Unlocking” features a riveting monologue from spoken-word artist Ursula Rucker and ends with the sound of a gun cocking. Then, after a few minutes of silence, Rahzel comes out of nowhere and hits the patient listener with a hilarious and well-executed kung fu movie impersonation as a bonus treat!
As if you even needed another reason to love this album beyond the music itself, nerds like myself who enjoy reading liner notes will surely appreciate Do You Want More?!!!??! for its incorporation of uniquely amusing and cryptic song credits; a couple good examples are the “Hey kids, let’s play connect the credits” game included for “I Remain Calm” and the fun “battle” track “? vs. Rahzel” listing ?uestlove playing “the kitchen sink” and Rahzel handling “everything but the kitchen sink (with his mouth)”. I truly believe that little things like this can crucially add to a music fan’s appreciation of an album, and it’s a damn shame that the digital age has all but completely phased out such nuances.
I’ve had this joint in rotation far more times than any other Roots release and it’s still not nearly enough. Do I want more?!!!??! You bet your ass I do.