Since releasing their 1993 debut album ‘Organix,’ the Roots have broadened the scope of mainstream hip-hop. Now, with their next release, the group will be attempting their first ever recording of a full-on concept album, says drummer Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson.

If you thought their five-day-a-week gig as the house band for ‘Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’ meant they’d have to sacrifice some of that restless creativity, think again.

“Mostly, our albums are thematic,” he explained to MTV recently, “but this is our first album in which it’s an actual narrative, so sort of like a movie without visuals; kind of like a storybook record.”

In Thompson’s eyes, the band’s steady ‘Fallon’ paycheck has freed them up in terms of taking greater creative risks. “I guess having the security of the Fallon job gives us room to do more experimentation and stuff that we always wanted to do without the fear of, ‘Oh my god, what’s our plan B? Now our day job is our plan B.” He continued, “Most rappers, poverty leads them to whatever the public determines and it really prevents them from being real artists, because a lot of artists I meet are like, ‘I wish we could be like y’all.’ We just create music on our own accord.”

The new album, titled ‘Undun,’ is scheduled for a December 6 release, and even as the band surges ahead creatively, Thompson admits he can’t help looking back at how far they’ve come. “Not many groups can say they are in their 20th year and on their 13th record, so I’m happy.”

Watch ?uestlove talk to MTV about the Roots’ new album, ‘Undun’


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