Inspired by the presidential win of Barack Obama in 2008, hip-hop troupe the Roots and singer John Legend decided to combine efforts and release an album of socially minded tunes, “Wake Up!”. Columbia will let the 11-song set loose on Sept. 21, with a first offering “Hard Times” — originally by Baby Huey and the Babysitters — available below.
“What started as plans for a single quickly developed into a passionate album representing change, hope and activism- not only referencing one particular moment in time, but on a larger scale, holding true no matter what the political climate may be,” read a release from the label, which described the effort as a mix of “gospel, rock and reggae inflections with hip-hop influences.”
The first single from the set will be “Wake Up Everybody” featuring Common and Melanie Fiona. It was first made famous by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes (with Teddy Pendergrass singing the vocals). Marvin Gaye’s “Wholly Holy,” Donny Hathaway’s “Little Ghetto Boy” and “Hang on in There” by Mike James Kirkland are amongst the other inclusions. Only one original track, from Legend, is listed: “Shine,” which is featured in the David Guggenheim documentary on public education “Waiting for Superman.”
This marks the first time Legend and The Roots have collaborated on a recording. The Roots — who also happen to be the house band on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” — just released their new and ninth studio effort “How I Got Over.” Legend has released three albums, the latest being 2008’s “Evolver.”