Finding The GOAT Group: The Roots vs. Freestyle Fellowship. Who Is Better?
“Finding the GOAT Group,” the fourth installment of Ambrosia For Heads’s annual battle series features Hip-Hop’s greatest collectives vying for the #1 spot. Sixty-two groups have been pre-selected by a panel of experts, and one slot will be reserved for a wild-card entry, including the possibility for write-in candidates, to ensure no deserving band of MCs and DJs is neglected. The 2018 contest consists of seven rounds, NCAA basketball-tournament style, leading to a Top 32, then the Sweet 16 and so on, until one winner is determined. For each battle, two groups are pitted against one another with a ballot to decide which one advances to the next round. Though there will be an enormous amount of debate in comments, on social media, in barbershops and text messages, which we encourage, only votes cast in the official ballot or those using the official hashtags on social media count.
The next battle is between two groups that have made an indelible mark on Hip-Hip since the early ’90s. Mixing consciousness rhymes and sophisticated wordplay that incorporated Jazz, Funk and Soul all under one umbrella collectively embraced the sound of Hip-Hop. From opposite coasts, these two highly-lyrical, multi-talented entities face off. Only one can reach Round 2, and your vote is important.
The Roots (once known as The Square Roots) came together back in 1987, when MC Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter and drummer/producer/DJ Ahmir “Questlove” Khalib Thompson became friends at the Philadelphia High School for Creative Performing Arts. Joining forces with MC Malik B and bassist Leon “Hub” Hubbard, The busked and jammed their way to the studio, beginning with 1993’s Organix. Their major label debut album Do You Want More ?!!!??! followed in early 1995, launching a streak of excellence that still carries on 23 years later. Whereas sampling was in full force, The Roots supplied their own sounds with homegrown abilities, and strong bridges to Jazz, Soul, and some of Hip-Hop’s genre tributaries. Early 1999’s Things Fall Apart represents a benchmark album for Hip-Hop and The Roots crew, met with platinum plaques, Grammy Awards, and a Top 40 song. The last 20 years of the collective have been colorful. The Roots’ personnel has shifted, as has its sound and tone. Questlove and Black Thought remain front and center, while keyboardist Kamal Gray dates back nearly 25 years with the band. With more than 183 album tracks (going by the group’s sequence), the Illafifth are working on their 12th album (and 20th project). In the meantime, the clique that last released 2014’s …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin is on TV with Jimmy Fallon five nights a week, rockin’ out.
Los Angeles, California’s Freestyle Fellowship built a microphone-minded civilization underground but seemed to continuously take a trip above the concrete with its showstopping lyricism and rhyme routines. Members Michael “Myka 9” Troy, Ornette “Self Jupiter” Ward, Eddie “Aceyalone” Hayes, Mtulzazji “P.E.A.C.E.” Davis along with DJ Kiilu Beckwith released To Whom It May Concern…. in 1991. The album showed a different perspective of South Central living than the Gangsta Rap narrative, as this troop of MCs used their deliveries like automatic weapons on the mic. Their major label follow-up, Innercity Griots, dropped in 1993, and the album was bold because it was essential and a perfectly outlandish collection of flow and style. Between two prison stays for Self Jupiter, the group ended their five-year hiatus and recorded an EP named Shockadoom in 1998. After another hiatus, F.F. then released Temptations in 2001 and reunion effort, The Promise, in 2011. During this time, members thrived with solo, side projects, as well as Haiku D’Etat and Project Blowed. The Fellowship’s ’93 song “Park Bench People” appeared in this year’s A Wrinkle in Time, a film by Good Life Café documentarian and band affiliate Ava DuVernay.
So who is the better Hip-Hop group? Make sure you vote above.