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Rising Down
Studio album by The Roots
Released April 29, 2008
Recorded 2006-2007
Genre Hip hop
Length 52:05
Label Def Jam
Producer Questlove
Professional reviews
The Roots chronology
Game Theory
Rising Down
How I Got Over

Rising Down is the eighth studio album by American hip hop band The Roots, released April 29, 2008 on Def Jam Recordings in the United States. It is their second album with the label, following Game Theory (2006). The album's title comes from William T. Vollmann's 2004 book Rising Up and Rising Down: Some Thoughts on Violence, Freedom and Urgent Means.[11] Similar to the book, the role of violence in human society is a central theme on the overtly-political album;[12] the album's political message reflects the violence in The Roots' home city of Philadelphia.[11]

Upon its release, Rising Down debuted at number 6 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart and became the highest-selling hip hop album of its debut week,[13] selling nearly 54,000 copies in its first week.[14] The album received generally positive reviews from music critics, based on an aggregate score of 80/100 from Metacritic.[15] Staff writer Sarah Rodman of The Boston Globe named it the third best album of 2008.[16]



The album contains a large number of guest vocalists, particularly in comparison to previous Roots albums. The album features many of the same guest vocalists as Game Theory. Peedi Crakk, Malik B., Dice Raw, P.O.R.N. and Mercedes Martinez all make repeat appearances. DC rapper Wale appears on the album, following an invite stemming from a Black Thought-tribute track called "Work" featured on his 100 Miles & Running mixtape.[17] Other notable emcees making appearances on the album include Native Tongues Posse members Mos Def, Talib Kweli, and Common, as well as Styles P and Saigon.[18]


According to the band's producer Questlove, Rising Down "is an electric record, more synthy. The darks are darker and the lights are lighter. But all I know is making quality hip-hop stylistically. We tried to do something we never did before. Kamal had to be the sacrificial lamb this time. The one instrument that has defined the Roots has been the Fender Rhodes. This is the first year he's had to change his instrumentation and try other sounds out. We have a bunch of keyboards and synthesizers we're using on this record. It feels like the musical equivalent of 'Blade Runner' sometimes. We've also added a horn section."[citation needed]

The album's themes are dark, as on the preceding Game Theory, with Questlove referring to this album as "the most incendiary, political album of our career to date." In the same interview, he explains: "Add up the crime and high school drop-out rates in Philadelphia, plus being in your mid-30s and working 300 nights a year and this being an election year — yeah, all that’s what this album’s about.” [19]


The first track leaked from the album was "75 Bars (Black's Reconstruction)", was posted on Okayplayer on 22 February 2008. The first single was initially confirmed as "Birthday Girl", which features Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump, and which leaked via Youtube, a song described by Questlove as "An easy pop song". [20] However, the song has gone from single to being an iTunes exclusive (bonus track), because the song didn't fit with the album's motif. “It was just sticking out like a sore thumb...Then we were going to have a 'halftime' thing where it was gonna come in the middle of the record as a break from the political thing, but that didn't work, either. Then we tried to make it the last song on the record, and that wasn't working. Then we tried to make it the hidden track, and that wasn't effective. Basically the album was complete; it starts with 'Rising Down' and it ends with 'Rising Up,' so that makes more sense to me." [21]

"Birthday Girl" has been included as a bonus track on iTunes and some international versions of the album, along with "The Grand Return"


Following its release, the album debuted at number 6 on the U.S. Billboard 200, selling about 54,000 copies in its first week.[14] As of March 31, 2009 the album has sold 163,818 copies.


# Title Producer(s) Performer (s)
1 "The Pow Wow"
2 "Rising Down" Questlove Black Thought,
Mos Def,
Styles P,
Dice Raw (chorus)
3 "Get Busy" The Roots,
Ritz Reynolds
Black Thought,
Dice Raw,
Peedi Peedi
DJ Jazzy Jeff (DJ scratches)
4 "@15" Black Thought
5 "75 Bars (Black's Reconstruction)" Questlove Black Thought
6 "Becoming Unwritten" The Roots,
Tahir Jamal,
Radji Mateen,
Khari Mateen
Black Thought
7 "Criminal" The Roots,
Khari Mateen
Black Thought,
Truck North,
8 "I Will Not Apologize" The Roots,
Richard Nichols
Black Thought,
Dice Raw,
Talib Kweli
9 "I Can't Help It" The Roots,
Richard Nichols
Black Thought,
Malik B,
Dice Raw,
Mercedes Martinez
10 "Singing Man" The Roots,
Khari Mateen
Black Thought,
Truck North,
Dice Raw
11 "Unwritten" The Roots,
Tahir Jamal,
Radji Mateen,
Khari Mateen
Black Thought,
Mercedes Martinez
12 "Lost Desire" The Roots,
Khari Mateen
Black Thought,
Malik B.,
Talib Kweli
13 "The Show" The Roots,
Tahir Jamal
Black Thought,
Dice Raw
14 "Rising Up" Questlove,
James Poyser
Black Thought,
Chrisette Michele
15 "Birthday Girl" (bonus track)* The Roots,
Richard Nichols,
Shane Clark
Black Thought,
Patrick Stump,
Shane Clark,
Kelli Scarr
16 "The Grand Return" (bonus track)* Black Thought,
Dice Raw,
Wadud Ahmad
17 "Pow Wow 2"
  • Bonus tracks included on International versions of the album.


  1. ^ Brown, Marisa. Review: Rising Down. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2009-10-05.
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Consumer Guide: Rising Down". MSN Music: May 2008. Archived from the original on 2009-10-05.
  3. ^ Howe, Sean. Review: Rising Down. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2009-10-05.
  4. ^ Wang, Oliver. Review: Rising Down. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2009-10-05.
  5. ^ Rabin, Nate. Review: Rising Down. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved on 2009-10-05.
  6. ^ Lundy, Zeth. Review: Rising Down. PopMatters. Retrieved on 2009-10-05.
  7. ^ Rosen, Jody. Review: Rising Down. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2009-10-05.
  8. ^ Hughes, Dave. Review: Rising Down. Slant Magazine. Retrieved on 2009-10-05.
  9. ^ Jones, Steve. Review: Rising Down. USA Today. Retrieved on 2009-10-05.
  10. ^ Allen, Harry. Review: Rising Down. The Village Voice. Retrieved on 2009-10-05.
  11. ^ a b "The Roots: Rising Up with 'Rising Down'", npr music, Apr. 29, 2008.
  12. ^ Murphy, Keith. "Review: Rising Down". Vibe: 65. June 2008.
  13. ^ Adaso, Henry. U.S. Rap Albums Chart - May 17, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-10-05.
  14. ^ a b Hasty, Kate (2008-05-07). "Madonna Leads Busy Billboard 200 With 7th No. 1". Billboard. Retrieved 2008-05-07. 
  15. ^ Rising Down (2008): Reviews. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2009-10-05.
  16. ^ Rodman, Sarah. Sarah Rodman's top CD picks of 2008: Rising Down. The Boston Globe. Retrieved on 2009-10-05.
  17. ^ Wale Confirms New Mixtape, Album and Roots Collaboration
  18. ^ Inside the Roots' next CD | The Roots | Music Preview | Music | Entertainment Weekly | 1
  19. ^ Initial Single Dropped From The Roots' New Album | | NEWS
  20. ^ FMQB: Radio Industry News, Music Industry Updates, Arbitron Ratings, Music News and more!
  21. ^ The Roots Drop Fall Out Boy Song From New Album - GIGWISE

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