Phrenology

 
Mature themes in sophisticated hip-hop.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Socially conscious and positive most of the time.

Violence

Some references to fighting and guns.

Sex

Explicit sexual references (especially "Break You Off," "The Seed," and "P----y Galore").

Language

It's no Quentin Tarantino film, but there's some swearing.

Consumerism

The Roots avoid flaunting the gaudy lifestyle usually brandished in popular rap.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

References to marijuana, cocaine, and alcohol.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this album contains some mature content (sex, violence, drug abuse), but strays from the stereotypes that burden most commercial hip-hop. Instead, we get something more creative, intelligent, and eclectic.

User reviews

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

The Roots are truly an anomaly in the world of hip-hop. They pride themselves on being a live band. Their beats originate from drummer extraordinaire ?uestlove (questlove), who is supported by a guitarist, bassist, and keyboard player. Their lead emcee, Black Thought, is one of the most under-appreciated rappers today, and their \"vocal magician\" Scratch uses his voice instead of turntables to fill the role of DJ. PHRENOLOGY is a great album with plenty of variety. Tracks such as \"Rock You\" and \"Thought @ Work\" have driving beats and hard, direct lyrics. Other cuts such as \"Sacrifice,\" \"Break You Off,\" and \"Complexity\" are smoothed out with Neo-Soul singers and catchy hooks.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Parents should be warned about a few of the songs: "The Seed" -- about wanting to get a woman pregnant so as to have a family -- is quite graphic. The song "Water" addresses a band mate's drug abuse. And "P---y Galore" is explicit while exploring the ways sex is used to sell products. Yet it's hard not to appreciate how Black Thought delivers verbal agility and socially conscious lyrics, and how the rest of the band backs it up well with creative compositions. Though topics are inappropriate for any but the most mature teens, if your teens are older and looking for talented musicians in the world of hip-hop, they should like this album.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about their pick of interesting issues addressed by the album's lyrics: love, friendship, determination, sacrifice, drug abuse, violence, and sex in marketing.

Music details

Artist:The Roots
Release date:November 26, 2002
Label:Maverick
Genre:Hip-hop
Parental advisory:Yes
Edited version available:No

This review of Phrenology was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

What parents and kids say

Write a user reviewThere aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass