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Adult-contemporary hip-hop? It exists on the new John Legend & The Roots CD

Ben Westhoff

John Legend & The Roots

Wake Up!
Two stars

You knew adult contemporary hip-hop was coming, you just didn’t know when. Well, it’s arrived, in the form of John Legend & The Roots’ album, Wake Up!, ready for airtime on a soft-rock station near you. There’s nothing at all offensive about the work, which mostly features Legend and various rappers performing over The Roots’ versions of hippie-era soul songs, and that’s what’s so offensive about it. After kicking off with a rousing take on Baby Huey’s “Hard Times,” the work promptly flatlines, cruising forward with vaguely political, pseudo-inspirational covers, most of which feel perfectly suited for naps. Wake Up! plays like an excuse for friends to get together. Too bad they didn’t limit themselves to jam sessions in Legend’s basement.


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