As mentioned earlier, we here at the SB headquarters don't always agree on things. While most times it can lead to a flurry of back-and-forth emails, in some instances, we just accept things as they are. Nowhere was that more evident than in the category of Group of the Year. When it came time to cast our votes this year, we were split right down the middle between two outstanding outfits, giving us the first-ever SB Honors' tie. That's right, The Roots and The Foreign Exchange are sharing the title this year. Why choose between the two when both seemed to reach into their musical stashes to bless us with multiple projects in one year?
Let's start off with The Legendary Roots Crew, who SoulBounce recognized as 2009's Group of the Year. As we pointed out in last year's piece, the group managed to successfully juggle a
busy touring schedule and a five-night-a-week gig as the house band for NBC's Late Night with
Jimmy Fallon. Add to that Questlove's frequent DJ gigs; Black Thought's supporting role in the
indie film, Night Catches Us (which the group also supplied the movie score), their annual music
festival in Philadelphia, and the release of not one, but two albums in 2010, and it's easy to see
why they are considered one of the hardest working outfits in show business. After announcing
that the group had been in the process of recording their ninth studio album, How I Got Over, via Questlove's Twitter page, they went on to release the album in June, followed up by a covers-filled collabo album with John Legend entitled Wake Up!, which hit stores in September. Where
they found the time to do all of this, we have no clue, but we are definitely grateful for the work
they continuously put in.
Not to be outdone, The Foreign Exchange also had a stellar year, thus leading to their tie for our 2010 Group of the Year. After practically sweeping our 2008 SoulBounce Honors and setting the stage for the growth of their Foreign Exchange Music label back in 2009, Phonte Coleman and Nicolay Rook went to work, making +FE a force to be reckoned with thanks to a slew of new music and a heavy-duty touring schedule. They kicked 2010 off with a GRAMMY nomination for Best Urban Alternative Performance, which segued into YahZarah's springtime release, The Ballad of Purple Saint James, before heating up the summer months with the release of 2010's Producer of the Year Zo!'s latest, SunStorm. However, it was on their own release, Authenticity, which dropped this past fall, where the FE-manned vehicle really took flight. It was here that they settled into their most exploratory sound to date, while also cementing their place as one of music's best live shows. Not bad for a group that infamously first formed via the Okayplayer message boards.
Regardless of whether you think one should have taken the top prize over the other, there's no denying the hustle of either group, especially at a time when many of today's artists throw temper tantrums and walk out on performances at the faintest hint of a slight. Despite being frequently overlooked in the mainstream spotlight, both The Roots and The Foreign Exchange continue to grind on, proving that good music is indeed possible, as long as you have the chops and the passion to cut it.