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Aural Pleasure Review

Third Root: 'Stand for Something'

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From the lilting sampled opening riffs of “Brother, Brother,” the first tune on Third Root’s sterling debut disc, the listener is immersed in a timeless sonic space, pulsing forward in an old school deep R&B groove, cascades of keys swirling all about, the mix held together with cannonades of propulsive righteous wordplay that connect rap to re-telling the history of brown and black peoples, “from Africa, to Mexico, to San Antonio and back.”  Third Root, a San Anto hip-hop supergroup, brings together Easy Lee of Mojoe with Mexican Stepgrandfather (aka Marco Cervantes, my colleague on the UTSA faculty), along with a large cohort of other impressive local collaborators from Bombasta, Mingo Fishtrap, Mojoe, and some of the city’s most adept producers.  It’s “the story of Saytown, connected by the culture of hip-hop … Eastside Black, Westside Brown.” 

Stand for Something is an exemplar of consciousness-raising hip-hop as popular pedagogy. When the duo isn’t engaged in funky theorizing (“division is the root of all confusion … criminalize the black and brown face”) they’re likely to be running through a vast archive of name-checking their mentors and precursors (“streetwise-intelligent, Satchmo-elegant, Chuck D-militant”) eventually including Robert Johnson, Carlos Santana, Randy Garibay, Steve Jordan, and Flaco Jiménez, among many other luminaries.

Luxuriantly produced, Third Root’s disc runs from R&B and blues grooves, to mestizo mixes of accordion and brass in hip hop settings. There’s even room for bicephalic experiments that evoke Portishead and Radiohead. As they announce at one point, “so many dope styles it’s like lyrical graffiti.” 

Stand for Something is a San Anto original, a mind-clearing antidote to the nonsense politics of our presidential campaign season.

★★★★ ½ (out of 5 stars)

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