The Roots is an American Hip hop neo soul band formed in 1987 by Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter and Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They are famed for beginning with a jazzy, eclectic approach to hip hop which still includes live instrumentals. Malik B., Leonard "Hub" Hubbard, and Josh Abrams were added to the band, originally called The Square Roots.
The Roots released an independently produced debut album, “Organix,” in 1993.
In 1995, with the label DGC Records, the band released “Do You Want More?!!!??!.” “Do You Want More?!!!??!” peaked at only #104 on the Billboard 200 chart in the US.
Two guest performers on “Do You Want More?!!!??!,” Rahzel and Scott Storch joined the group. Soon after, however, Storch left the band and was replaced by Kamal Gray.
Their next album, “Illadelph Halflife,” was released in 1996. With “Illadelph Halflife” the band again gained members in Scratch and Dice Raw. “Illadelph Halflife” peaked at #21 on the Billboard 200, making it the group's first album to crack the Top 40. "Clones" was their first single to reach the top five on the rap charts. "What They Do" was also the group's first single to hit the Top 40 of Billboard's charts, reaching a peak of #34.
The band's next album, “Things Fall Apart,” was a breakthrough album in that it was their first album to break the top 10 of the Billboard 200 (peaking at 4). The album was certified gold in the US, and its single "You Got Me" a duet with R&B singer Erykah Badu and Eve, peaked at #39 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #19 on the Hot Rap Tracks chart. "You Got Me" won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group in 2000.
Also in 1999, the band released an EP, “The Legendary,” and a live album titled “The Roots Come Alive.”
Rahzel, Dice Raw, and Malik B. all parted from the band for differing reasons. In 2000, guitarist Ben Kenney joined The Roots and would stay with the band through their next album, “Phrenology,” before leaving to join rock band Incubus. Despite not charting as high as “Things Fall Apart,” reaching a peak of #28 on the charts, “Phrenology” was commercially successful, eventually going gold, and earning a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album. “Phrenology” contained the band's second single to chart on the Hot 100, "Break You Off", which featured Musiq Soulchild, and peaked at #99.
After “Phrenonlogy,” guest performer F. Knuckles became a permanent member and Captain Kirk Douglas replaced Kenney, while Scratch also decided to leave the group.
Their next album was 2004's “The Tipping Point” which peaked at #4 on the Billboard album chart. The album earned two more Grammy nominations: one for Best Urban/Alternative Performance for the track "Star" and another for Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group for the track "Don't Say Nuthin'."
“Game Theory,” released August 29, 2006 , debuted at number nine on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart and earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rap Album. To date, the album has sold over 200,000 copies in the United States.
During 2007, longtime member Leonard Hubbard decided to retire. He was replaced by Owen Biddle.
“Rising Down,” the eighth studio album from The Roots, was released in 2008 and debuted at number six on the US Billboard 200 chart. The album also entered at number one on Billboard's Top Rap Albums, ultimately spending 12 weeks on the chart, and at number three on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, ultimately spending 22 weeks on the chart.
Their next album, “How I Got Over,” was released on June 21, 2010 and debuted at number six on the US Billboard 200 chart. Also in 2010, The Roots collaborated with R&B singer John Legend on the album “Wake Up!.” “Wake Up!” debuted at number eight on the US Billboard 200 chart.
They have collaborated with a wide range of artists from different genres, including Roy Ayers and Cody Chesnutt. The Roots have generated a great deal of critical acclaim and influenced numerous rap and R&B acts. On March 2, 2009, The Roots became the house band on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”