The relationship between the Roots and its label MCA appeared estranged in October, when Philadelphia’s City Paper ran a cover story on the group lambasting its label over a number of creative conflicts. Months after the much-discussed article hit the newsstands, group member Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson says that the relationship has been improving.
In the controversial expose, Roots members Black Thought and Thompson voiced their dissatisfaction with the staff of MCA, including president Jay Boberg. They were upset that the label strongly suggested that Erykah Badu replace the then-unknown Jill Scott on the group’s song “You Got Me,” which went on to receive a Grammy. They also noted limited video budgets for “Adrenaline,” from their last album Things Fall Apart, and for “The Wound,” from their protege group the Jazzyfatnastees.
LAUNCH recently spoke with a hopeful Thompson about the ordeal. “We’re getting back together now,” Thompson said, but added that the angle of the City Paper story was not handled properly.
Thompson said the story should have mainly focused on MCA’s need to better support its “left of center” acts that include the likes of the Roots, Jaguar, the Jazzys, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Jay Dee, Blackalicious, and the recent acquisition of the Rawkus roster.
“All these groups that are left of center, not mainstream,” Thompson said. “You just can’t sign these type of acts, and think they are going to sell on their own. You’ve got to put muscle behind them.”
The Roots are currently working on their sixth album, Phrenology, which is scheduled to be released during spring 2002.