The Roots ventured beyond their Tonight Show digs to perform “It Ain’t Fair” with Bilal on Late Night With Seth Meyers Wednesday. The song appears on the soundtrack to Detroit, Kathryn Bigelow’s movie about the city’s 1967 riots.
“It Ain’t Fair” swings between aching soul and raging fury, with Bilal and Roots MC Black Thought trading verses until the song’s explosive conclusion. Bilal belted potent dirges about persistent inequality over an understated groove, while Black Thought followed with a torrent of righteous, blazing bars over a Motown-esque rave up. During the song’s chilling final moments, Bilal and Black Thought echoed each other as they roared the refrain, “No, it ain’t fair/ No, no,” after which the singer unleashed a stunning wail.
Last December, “It Ain’t Fair” was included on the Academy Awards’ shortlist for the Best Song Oscar. The final nominees will be announced January 23rd.
The Detroit soundtrack primarily features Sixties soul, doo-wop and R&B tunes, including several from classic Motown acts like Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Brenda Holloway and the Elgins.