Philadelphia gets a bad rap, mostly because our sports fans attacked Santa, or our sports fans threw batteries at players, or we needed to install a courtroom in our stadium. Though it’s not just sports—let’s not forget it’s a city where police bombed a house of activists and burned a city block to the ground, and a city that terrified David Lynch to such a degree that it was inspiration for Eraserhead. So it was not until 1994, when I heard The Roots via a graffiti video by Steve “ESPO” Powers, that I was comfortable rooting for Philadelphia. Don’t get me wrong, Go Sixers, Go Fresh Prince, Go Tastykakes, Go Ben Franklin, but I had a different sense of hometown pride hearing the first track on Do You Want More?!!!??! “You are all about to witness some organic hip hop jazz 100% groove…it’s from The Roots Philadelphia rap group.” Maybe I was just 16 and felt a sense of agency in what I was selecting to identify with, but the music sounded nostalgic, of its moment, and forward thinking. The album’s second track “Proceed,” asks the existential question “What if you could just blink yourself away?” but then doesn’t, and proceeds to rock the mic.
-Brett Fletcher Lauer
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