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The Roots Are Making Short Films for Their Concept Album

Undun, the upcoming concept album from the insanely and impressively busy Roots, is — in the band’s own words — “an existential re-telling of the short life of one Redford Stephens.” The character was named for a Sufjan Stevens song (Sufjan will appear on the album), and Questlove tells Spin that the band imagined Redford “as being like Avon Barksdale from The Wire. He's a good guy who could have just gone to college and been a great engineer or something. But he makes a bad decision and pays for it.” As far as concept albums go, it’s a relatively concrete, accessible plot (no xylophone toes, at least), and also one that lends itself to visual interpretation. So the Roots, wisely, are doing just that. The band has now released three short video snippets in anticipation of Undun (they’ll continue doing so each Tuesday until the album’s release, on December 6), and today’s, “Stomp,” gets a little real, with the Redford-like character holding up a cop and a bodega in less than a minute. Based on the timestamps, it looks like the “Stomp” chapter comes after last week’s video for “Tip the Scale” (in which maybe-Redford roams a rough neighborhood) but before “Make My” (which involves an extended, super-real shoot-out).   In summary, it's not a happy ending.  Undun is due December 6.