The Roots have always been known for their unexpected collaborations, but this one takes the cake. As the buzz around the new concept album undun grows, in a recent interview with SPIN, Roots drummer ?uestlove mentioned that Sufjan Stevens’ song “Redford” influenced the identity of the album’s main protagonist, Redford Stevens.
“But we named the character after the Sufjan Stevens song ‘Redford’ from his Michigan record. We imagined Redford as being like Avon Barksdale from The Wire. He’s a good guy who could have just gone to college and been a great engineer or something. But he makes a bad decision and pays for it.”
Furthermore, he also mentioned that Stevens would be both covered and make an appearance on undun: “We’ve always loved the song ‘Redford’ from Michigan. So we close the new album with a cover of ‘Redford.’ We stretched it out into this four-part movement. Part 1 is Sufjan at the piano performing it. And then Part 2 is a string quartet that we had interpret it. Part 3 is myself and D.D. Jackson, who is an avant-garde piano player. He’s probably one of the most dangerous pianists — I don’t know how he doesn’t have carpal tunnel now. But he just destroys, literally, destroys the piano. The final movement, which ends the record, is essentially the beginning of the story. But it’s the last thing you hear. It’s a very powerful piece of work.”
?uestlove finished the interview saying that for The Roots, undun is as good as it gets. If that doesn’t get you excited, you clearly haven’t listened to enough of The Roots’ discography. Check out the completed tracklist including guest spots below:
1. The Un
3. Make My f. Big K.R.I.T.
4. One Time f. Phonte & Dice Raw
5. Kool On f. P.O.R.N.
6. The Other Side
7. Stomp f. P.O.R.N.
9. I Remember
10. Tip The Scale
11. Redford (For Yia Yia & Pappou)
13. Will To Power