The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

Betty Wright and the Roots

Written by: Pat King, Special to CC2K

So you’ve got a 70’s soul legend and the greatest live hip hop act around. What do you do, hotshot? What do you do? Well, naturally you combine the two and, sheet, need I tell you? You get a buncha funkysoul greatness with smolderingly sensual lyrics and just enough of that thump-thump bass beating modern sound that keeps the nostalgia from being so overpowering that it’s simply a throwback. We get something a little retro, a little modern, but something that will certainly add to your night with your ladylove or sweet mustachioed fella.

Yes, I’m obviously talking about the new collaboration between Betty Wright and the Roots. And yes, I do love this album. The Roots’ last collaboration with a singer, John Legend, was excellent. And Betty Wright, Jesus, what a voice she has! Doesn’t seem to have changed much at all in forty years. Betty Wright: The Movie is a soundtrack to a biographical film that hasn’t been made yet.

And it works. It’s kinda like how Lost Lobos covered all those Richie Valens songs for the movie La Bama, making it sound like Valens composed tunes in the 1980’s. Except, of course, that this record actually sounds good and was a project worth attempting.

Though there’s a few songs about using samples in hip hop tunes and how to keep the love in a relationship, the main theme of this album is hot drippin’ red-eyed because you been bumpin’ all night sexy sex sex. Like her super-sensual 1972 album, I Love the Way You Love, this collection of songs is all about eroticism. No prudes allowed here. Hide your granny and lock up the dog, because this is some seriously sexy stuff.

And let’s not forget about the Roots. The beats, the deep baselines, the sensual guitar all lend themselves to an almost orchestral sound. But you’ve heard of these fellas, right? You might have seen them as the house band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. I haven’t. But their album Rising Down is in heavy rotation on my cloud player. They’re all top-notch musicians, and though they might occasionally use samples, everything from their drums to the guitars are live and played by some super-talented folks.

This album is the perfect mixture of old school soul and 21st Century hip hop. Dig it and then dig it again.


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