The Roots will release their 11th studio album, “… And Then You Shoot Your Cousin,” on May 20.

It’s been more than two years since the band released “undun,” but they haven’t slowed down since transitioning with Jimmy Fallon to “The Tonight Show.” The Roots released a collaboration with Elvis Costello called “Wise Up Ghost” last year.

The album art is renowned collage artist Romare Bearden’s “Pittsburgh Memory.”

Okayplayer.com calls the new concept album a “gamechanger.” Said Eddie “Stats”:

In place of the usual braggadocio, [Black] Thought and [Greg] Porn occupy fully-realized characters that are distinct from themselves – and do many things besides the ‘win, win, win’ we usually expect from our fantasy thug avatars. The more you listen, the more you realize that this near-heretical violation of the G-code frees up the rappers to say things that couldn’t be rapped before, turning the “I Will Not Lose” logic of the genre on its head.

Thought said in February that the record was satire; he wanted to do a send-up of hip-hop stereotypes.

“We created some of these characters that we kind of see,” he told XXL. “We as artists, musicians, Philadelphians, New Yorkers, we as black men, we’re familiar with very many of these characters, and we kind of introduce them to the rest of the world in a manner that makes them more easily understood than maybe seeing it.”

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The Roots are using the huge megaphone they enjoy as the house band for Fallon to expand and dispel mainstream conceptions about hip-hop.  It’s easy to think the genre is obsessed with materialism when one of its most well-known ambassadors spent much of his last album rapping about his Picassos and Basquiats (though even with “Magna Carta … Holy Grail,” Jay Z was saying more than just “look how rich I am”).

When Macklemore and Ryan Lewis won this year’s Grammy for best rap album over fan favorite and critical darling Kendrick Lamar, the Recording Academy seemed to be endorsing a new world order of anti-materialism and consciousness-raising. There was a backlash from those who said black hip-hop artists have been saying the same things for years without the same back-patting that Macklemore experienced. What’s more, on music’s biggest stage, black artists were largely shut out of the genre they created and molded. Even Macklemore was surprised by the win, incensing many when he Instagrammed his text to Lamar: “You got robbed.”

Wrote Brittney Cooper at Salon:

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Macklemore is so popular in part because his music critiques gratuitous consumption and homophobia, both of which are figured to be problems endemic, not to American society, but to hip-hop culture in particular. Thus both he and Lorde scored big awards, he as best new artist, and her song of the year, because the view is that these white folks have come to a transnational consensus, that hip-hop culture is what ails us, and their critiques constitute a cure.

Songs like The Roots’ “When The People Cheer” demonstrate that longtime hip-hop players can still critique the genre they’ve helped build. Such critique is not just a job for upstarts or underground artists who are considered niche. The Roots aren’t the only rap artists to do it, but they’re certainly some of the most visible ones.

Take a gander:

And here’s the first single, “When the People Cheer.”

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