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by The Roots

Released December 6, 2011 via Def Jam Recordings

Reviewed December 7, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Make My (58%), Lighthouse (42%), The OtherSide (35%)

The Roots’ 2011 effort, Undun, is a key cog in what makes their discography one of hip-hop’s most storied. Crafted more than 30 years after the group’s formation, it’s a masterpiece amidst a track record of unprecedented consistency. Taking the form of a concept album, Undun tells its story in reverse, beginning with the protagonists’ death and detailing the events that led to it. A brutal and existential listen, the story of Redford Stevens—our main character—is a fictionalized, but rather realistic, account of a life in urban poverty gone wrong. Throughout his journey, we see a rising level of circumstantial self-awareness, but an inability to escape his fate. If nothing else, Undun is The Roots’ most ambitious work; depicting a life in the streets is recurrent of their work, but Undun touches upon the systematic failures that breed these conditions in a way no other legends in the game could. – Dominick (9.5/10)

Undun is a wonderfully conceptualized record, where everything is meticulously crafted to create a narrative that works as well backward as it does forward. The Roots take us on a fictional tale, although clearly based on real events, where we witness urban decay, systems failing entire groups of people, and how fate is inevitable. Undun is some of The Roots’ finest work both lyrically and instrumentally, with everyone in top form and taking the concept to its fullest extent. – Jared (8.5/10)

The reverse chronological concept of Undun places the listener at the end of our main protagonist's––Redford Stevens––life. An idea that has been done before, Nas on “Rewind” for example, but not quite to the same prolonged effect. The Roots use their signature approach to produce a full length, consistently clinical, and engaging project. Slowly strolling through Stevens' journey, a journey unfurling before our very ears, is an incredibly powerful experience. Being an aural witness to the effects of urban poverty and the ways in which lives can turn out is astounding in its humbling prowess. The “Redford Suite” is a very fitting way to end the album. Packed with such sorrow and remorse, it effectively hits home the hard-hitting subject matter of Undun. – Peter (8/10)

Dominick: 9.5/10 | Hadley: 9.5/10 | Pax: 9.2/10 | Cam: 9/10 | Henny: 8.7/10

DeVán: 8/10 | Jared: 8/10 | Peter: 8/10 | Pablo: 7.5/10 | Ben (Synth): 7/10


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