🎙️ARTIST: The Roots
📣TITLE: What They Do
💿ALBUM: Illadelph Halflife
“What They Do” was released as the third single from Illadelph Halflife. This song is about how the industry has evolved into a complete scheme where rappers are only in it for capitalistic pursuits and not a love for the art.
Raphael Saadiq spoke about his involvement in the track:
I’m a huge A Tribe Called Quest fan…in fact, I’m a Tribe member. I was the only R&B cat that played on Midnight Marauders (Saadiq played bass on the track ‘Midnight’). And Questlove was a Tribe fan as well. So when I hooked up with The Roots to make ‘What They Do’ I felt like the bassline had to be something solid in the same way. Questlove is one of the best drummers in the world, period. From being around so much hip-hop, I knew exactly what to do on that track. That’s why I came up with the lyrics ‘Never do what they do.’ My thought process was to just do something different that would be a timeless song for a timeless group like The Roots.
Below is the official subtitled music video, often considered one of the most important videos in rap history. This video caused a riff between The Roots and The Notorious B.I.G. aka Biggie Smalls. Biggie thought The Roots were dissing him, due to the fact that this video somewhat resembled his own “One More Chance” video. Biggie told The Source magazine that he didn’t understand why they were dissing him, being that he’d shown them so much love and support. The Roots were one his favorite groups. ?uestlove wrote an apology with all intentions of sending it to The Source. Unfortunately, it was too late—Biggie died before he could read it. (Genius)
[Verse 1: Black Thought]
Lost generation, fast-paced nation
World population confront they frustration
The principles of true hip-hop have been forsaken
It’s all contractual and about money-makin’
Pretend-to-be cats don’t seem to know they limitation
Exact replication and false representation
You wanna be a man? Then stand your own
To emcee require skills, I demand some shown
I let the frauds keep frontin’, and roam like a cellular phone
Far from home, givin’ crowds what they wantin’
Official hip-hop consumption, The Fifth thumpin’
Keepin’ your party jumpin’ with an original somethin’
Yo, I dedicate this to the one-dimensional
No imagination, excuse for perpetration
My man came over and said, « Yo, we thought we heard you »
Joke’s on you — you heard a bitin’-ass crew, but, um..
[Verse 2: Black Thought]
Thin is the line that run between love and hatred
The game is ill-natured, it’s nothin’ sacred
A-yo, it’s funny what I see some rap niggas do to make it
A few’ll blow up, or go as far as they can take it
My nine-to-five is just to hit ya, get the party live
I’m Black Thought, used to rap for sport
Now the rhyme-sayin’, rent-payin’ life support
I take it very seriously within this industry
It’s various crews that try to touch me
But I come with the beautiful things, and I bless the track plushly
Around the world, crowds love me from doin’ tours
Recipient of applause from all of you and yours
Creator of original sounds that’s in the stores
You take home to absorb, and sweat it out your pores
Now, who can stop the music runnin’ through these veins?
Infinitely go against the grain, that’s why my motto’s to..
[Verse 3: Black Thought]
Livin’ the life of limos and lights
Airplanes and trains, short days and long nights
Keyboards and mics, bass chords and drum kicks
And my mental thick, they hit my head like brick
As I embark on a mission, welcomin’ to the dark
When I first spark the art’s when the listenin’ start
Open your head wide, and let the Thought inside
My style fortified by all of Philadelph-i
My delph more stealth than all the wicked wealth-y
Mentality undetectable by the naked eye
Then I get paid when the record is played
To put it short — « I want It Made » like Ed, ’nuff said!
Then after that, I’m puttin’ on my cousin Hamed
We let the ladies blend with the dark-skinned thoroughbred
And discover my level is that of no other
And Roots crew reign official and true while I’m continuin’ to..
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