The Roots' 13th release is a concept album with a bravura twist: It narrates the story of a bootstrapping hustler in reverse, from death to birth. The morally ambiguous gangster tale is a pop-culture staple; unfortunately, Black Thought’s skilled but stolid rapping adds nothing new to the idiom. Sonically, though, undun is a knockout, sliding between genres, with the slinky digital grooves of songs like "Sleep" rubbing against the guitar-anddrums assault of "Stomp." The record ends with a three-part instrumental, including some mighty Elvin Jones-style bashing by Questlove – a musical coda more gripping than the saga that preceded it.
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