Originally formed in 1989, this Philadelphia supergroup is finally getting the recognition it deserves. Pioneers of the live-rap movement, the Roots use traditional instrumentation in lieu of samples and drum machines. Their distinctly jazzy sound is the direct result of highly skilled musicianship, as demonstrated on their high-quality albums and always impressive live performances. In addition to their signature, organic sound, they are also known for their positive and conscious lyricism. Emcees Black Thought and Malik B always give you something to think about, dropping verses on such heavy topics as politics, equality and respect for fellow man. The Roots have opened the door for a new breed of artist, stressing the importance of original music and intelligent content, a refreshing contrast to hip-hop's glut of party-thug rappers. They are without a doubt one of the most important bands around, not just as emcees, but as musicians and role models.