Episode 126: The Roots

“It Ain’t Fair (feat. Bilal)”

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Drummer Ahmir Thompson, also known as Questlove, and rapper Tariq Trotter, aka Black Thought, started The Roots when they were in high school in Philadelphia in 1987. Over the last thirty years, the band has released 17 albums. They’ve received a bunch Grammy nominations including three wins. They’re also the house band for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. In this episode, Questlove tells the story of how they made the song “It Ain’t Fair.” It was created for the film Detroit, directed by oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow, who also made the films The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. Detroit is about the 1967 Detroit riots, centered around the events at the Algiers Motel, where police killed three young black men and beat and tortured nine others. The Roots recruited the singer Bilal to contribute vocals to the song, and they worked with The Dap-Kings, the backing band for the late soul singer Sharon Jones, to create a sound that evoked the music of 1967.

You can get “It Ain’t Fair” on iTunes. Watch the trailer for Detroit below.

Illustration by Carlos Lerma.

footnotes
Curtis Mayfield – The Other Side of Town
John Williams – Raiders March (Indiana Jones Theme)

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Episode 125: R.E.M.

“Try Not to Breathe”

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R.E.M. was formed in Athens, Georgia, in 1980 by singer Michael Stipe, bassist Mike Mills, guitarist Peter Buck, and drummer Bill Berry. They’ve won three Grammys, and have sold over 85 million records. In 1992, the band released their eighth album, Automatic for the People. In honor of the 25th anniversary of its release, in this episode, Michael Stipe and Mike Mills take apart the song, “Try Not to Breathe.”

You can get “Try Not to Breathe” on iTunes and the 25th Anniversary Edition of Automatic for the People here.

Illustration by Carlos Lerma.

footnotes
Dulcimer
Producer Scott Litt
“Video Killed the Radio Star” – The Buggles
“Tears in Rain” monologue from Blade Runner

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Episode 124: Nine Inch Nails

“The Lovers”

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Trent Reznor started Nine Inch Nails in 1988. He released eight albums, sold over 20 million records, won two Grammys and was nominated for 11 more. Then, in 2010, Trent Reznor and his longtime collaborator Atticus Ross scored the film The Social Network, and they won an Oscar for it. A few years later, in 2016, Atticus Ross joined Nine Inch Nails as an official member. The duo’s most recent release is Add Violence, an EP, and in this episode, Trent and Atticus break down a song from it called “The Lovers.”

You can get “The Lovers” on iTunes and the Add Violence EP on vinyl here.

Here’s a picture of the Luminist Garden, the sound manipulator made by Folktek that’s used on “The Lovers.”

luminist2

Illustration by Carlos Lerma.

footnotes
“Branches / Bones” – by Nine Inch Nails, from Not the Actual Events EP.
Nine Inch Nails discography

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