October 31, 2022
More than six years after The Roots revealed they were working on their 17th studio album, "End Game," fans finally got to hear some of the music last week. The album's first single, "Misunderstood," made its premiere on a New York City radio station.
The song, which features Erykah Badu and Philadelphia native Tierra Whack, has yet to be released on streaming platforms. But Hot 97 DJ Funkmaster Flex played it during a WQHT broadcast last Thursday, just one week after challenging each of The Roots members to release music from the long-awaited album.
During the broadcast, Funk Flex praised the song, and thanked Questlove and Black Thought for answering his challenge. After the song premiered, Questlove posted a 9-minute video on his Instagram that includes the song being played on the radio. He also promised that The Roots would finish work on "End Game" as soon as possible.
"I don't need this no more," Questlove said, picking up the Academy Award he won for his work on the "Summer of Soul" documentary earlier this year. "I ain't trying to be dramatic, this has been a year of bucket list (items). But no doubt, I made a song that Hot 97 Funkmaster Flex dropped some bombs on. This is my Christmas gift, thank you."
In August, Questlove told HipHopDX that the album is more than 60% completed. Over the last six years, The Roots have have teased collaborations with artists and producers, including 9th Wonder and Salaam Remi. In 2019, Questlove revealed that the album would include an unreleased beat from legendary producer J Dilla, who died in 2016.
The producer, who worked closely with The Roots on their 1999 album "Things Fall Apart," is also the subject of an upcoming documentary that Questlove is set to executive produce.
Though Questlove promised "End Game" would be finished "pronto," he stopped short of revealing a release date for the project.
The Roots have historically waited only two or three years in between album releases. Still, the longer wait time may the result of several factors: a newfound freedom for the band, at least 263 songs recorded in anticipation of the album, and the death of longtime manager Richard Nichols in 2014.
"The difference between this record and (the ones) that came before it was our longtime collaborator, who's our manager and producer, is no longer with us," Questlove told OkayPlayer in 2017. "Usually, in that situation, (Nichols has) always been the centerpiece, the referee, between all the guys. So, this will be the first time we had to grow up and resolve our own arguments. But the one thing he was talented at was telling us when to stop."
The Roots also have been hard at work in their solo careers and during their day job as the in-house band on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon."
Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter released "Cheat Codes," a collaborative album with Danger Mouse, earlier this year. The release was met with positive reviews, resulting in an 83% rating on Metacritic. Black Thought also was honored in Philadelphia with a mural outside of The Clay Studio in Olde Kensington.
Questlove's "Summer of Soul" has received massive critical acclaim since it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2021. Though he has yet to direct a follow-up film, he served as executive producer on Netflix documentary "Descendant" and is currently working on "Dilla Time."
Questlove and Black Thought are working with Mick Jagger to produce a docuseries about James Brown for A&E. The series is set for a 2023 release to celebrate what would have been the soul singer's 90th birthday. Brown died in 2006.