NPR's offering a free listen to the new album "Wake Up!" with John Legend and The Roots. From their website:
How many would have put money on a resurgence of "socially conscious" pop after Barack Obama's election less than two years ago? Swept up in optimism following the election of a black commander-in-chief, many musicians reacted the same way Obama's 13 million email recipients did: They returned to normalcy and checked out of politics. The Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am, who motivated so many young people with his remix of Obama's signature phrase, went from "Yes We Can" to "Boom Boom Pow."Getting excited about a new album, well, that doesn't happen often with me but I've become a big John Legend fan (I even wrote a sermon that was inspired in part by one of his songs) and I'm so totally bummed that I won't be seeing his concert in Oregon. At least I get this early listen to album. Wake up brothers and sisters!
John Legend performed "Yes We Can" with will.i.am at the Democratic National Convention in 2008, but unlike his friend and frequent producer, he didn't stop once the ballots were counted. During the past 18 months, Legend spent his spare time collaborating with ?uestlove and The Roots on covers of politically motivated soul music from the 1960s and '70s. What started as a potential single turned into Wake Up!, 11 vintage songs which are at turns optimistic and frustrated about the times that birthed them.
Younger fans of Legend's bedroom shtick are about to get a serious history lesson. (Roots fans, not so much.) Most of these songs didn't become timeless hits that slid easily into contemporary playlists, the lone exception being Eugene McDaniel's protest song "Compared to What," recorded in 1969 by Roberta Flack and appropriated in 2003 by Coca-Cola for a commercial starring Common (who, ironically, appears on Wake Up!'s title track).