I was listening to “The Fire” by the Roots the other day. Now, I’ve heard the “How I Got Over” album multiple times. Bought it on the first day it came out, actually. From “Dear God 2.0” to “Hustla”, to the title track, the whole album bangs. That’s not debatable, in my opinion.
But “The Fire” is the song that gets my full attention every time. It’s not just that the beat is hot or that it has the ability to draw you in from the jump. It’s that it presents itself with a certain type of rhythmic urgency, compelling my attention. The drum beat almost sounds like a battle march. A call to action. And Black Thought comes in to remind us of the mission. Setting the ground work and pulling no punches:
“My soul starts to grow colder than the North Pole.
I try to focus on the hole of where the torch goes.
In the tradition of these legendary sports pros,
As far as I can see, I’ve made it to the threshold.
Lord knows I’ve waited for this a lifetime.
And I’m an icon when I let my light shine.”
It is a call to action. Tariq challenges us to see ourselves for who we are. Jaded, confused, conflicted, and at times, feeling completely diminished.
Yet, in the face of all this:
“One love, one game, one desire
One flame, one bonfire, let it burn higher.
I never show signs of fatigue or turn tired
Cause I’m the definition of tragedy turned triumph.”
This song confidently remains a message of hope. The lyrics tell us, in no uncertain terms, that this is going to be fucked up. But we have the strength to make any serious change that’s necessary. We have the skills to be the best version of ourselves we can imagine. And if we have even the slightest spark of passion, it can, in no time, become a raging inferno. Tearing thru every obstacle that dares to enter our cypher.
This song gets my attention every time. I can’t help it. With everything 2020 has thrown at us, I need it. Maybe you have all of your shit fully together. If so, I’m really happy for you. Maybe your “can do” anthem is completely different. If so, I respect it.
For the rest of us, who have a hard time sometimes, The Roots deliver the perfect ‘pick me up’. The kind of thing we need to reignite the spark. And the perfect fuel for the fire inside us all.