The 1996 album hosted a noticeable shift in The Roots's sound & almost caused them to split.
Music fans love a good collective. If a group of artists can come together and create beautiful music together, fans will embrace them all, picking their favorites in the band and dishing out dollars for live shows. The Roots have been one of the most celebrated groups in Hip Hop, if not music history, but drummer Questlove revealed that there were several times when they were *thisclose* to disbanding.
The acclaimed musician recently chatted about his career on Unbothered with Jemele Hill and during the conversation, Questlove shared a few tales of The Roots nearly breaking up.
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“The inside joke is this album, 'End Game,' will probably the first album where I didn’t threaten to leave the group,” said Questlove with a laugh. “The rest of The Roots will say that I hold the record for the longest [holdout]...after three records, it’s like ‘The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf,’ like yeah, he’ll be back next month, don’t worry about him.”
“During 'Illadelph Halflife,' we didn’t exactly have a conversation about evolving. Longtime Roots fans will know like, ‘This album sounds this way, and this album different than the album before,'" he added. "I think at the beginning of 'Illadelph Halflife,' I was the last to know that Tariq and Malik desired to rhyme over a more traditional Hip Hop backdrop. And after a while, it was like, ‘Wait a minute? Am I the bad guy here? Did I kill my own group? Are you saying the live music angle is what’s killing us right now? It’s my fault?' I took it mad personal.”
The crew was able to amicably resolve their issues before things took a turn for the worst. Illadelph Halflife, released in the Fall of 1996, became one of the band's most beloved projects. Listen to Questlove's compelling conversation with Jemele Hill below.