Read the review and listen here at Esquire Magazine –> LINK.
For years in the late 90s and the early 2000s we regularly crossed paths with The Roots while performing at various festivals around the US. Several of Antibalas, being hip hop heads, were into them since their debut recordings in the early 90s. Martín, a native of Philly, remembers seeing them perform in their earliest days as the “Square Roots,” but that’s a story for another day.
Fast forward to 2009. Red Bull asks both bands to be part of Red Bull Soundclash, where we play in round-robin format on facing stages, with the audience in between both stages. We got to spend two days in a big rehearsal studio figuring out how to pull this off. Then we went to Boston and did the show at the Roxy. It was epic.
A few months later, then the Roots and Public Enemy asked us to perform “It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back” live at The Roots Picnic in Philadelphia. Another surreal and beautiful musical experience.
Shortly after, the Antibalas Horns members began making semi-regular cameo appearances with the Roots on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon when they wanted to add extra horns to performances with artists like Paul Simon, My Morning Jacket and others. Two years in a row, we teamed up with them to do the Comedy Central Comedy Awards Show in 2012 and 2013.
Finally, we get to make some music with them on record…sort of.
A few months back, the Roots and Elvis Costello (and longtime Roots sound guru Steve Mandel) released “Wise Up Ghost,” a collaboration with Elvis Costello. They reached out to us and asked us to do a remix/reworking of “Walk Us Uptown,” the single off the new album.
Our guitarist, Marcos García (aka Chico Mann) took charge as the coordinator, and with help from Victor Axelrod (aka Ticklah) on keys and engineering, plus horns, drums, bass and percussion and Elvis’s vocals, we put together a quick session to meet a seemingly impossible deadline.