John Legend and the Roots
John Legend is modern R&B's classiest male singer, bringing old-fashioned suavity to hip-hop soul; the Roots are the world's most versatile (and maybe best) band. Together, they have made a brilliantly conceived and executed album, reviving music from the Nixon-era heyday of politically engaged R&B. Bustling through funk, Philly soul and gospel, taking on songs famous (Marvin Gaye's "Wholy Holy") and obscure (Mike James Kirkland's "Hang on in There"), Legend and the Roots capture the old feeling of protest and uplift while updating the sound. They're not imitators — they're heirs.