Like its literary namesake (the novel written by Nigerian Nobel Prize winner Chinua Achebe), Things Fall Apart
examines the colonial mind-set as manifested in the modern African-American experience. With unfussy yet precise production, irresistible beats, and smooth rhymes (provided predominantly by lead MC Black Thought), the Roots stroll through the 'hood, pointing out paradoxes and political realities ("Act Won," "Double Trouble"), without losing sight of love ("You Got Me," featuring Erykah Badu
), or missing an opportunity to party ("The Next Movement"). Few albums manage to simultaneously be this informative, political, and downright groovy. From "Step into the Realm" to the closing strains of "Return to Innocence Lost," the Roots never stray from their mission to enlighten as well as to entertain.