Illadelph Halflife is the third studio album by American hip hop band the Roots, released September 24, 1996 on Geffen Records. It features a tougher and broader sound than their previous album, Do You Want More?!!!??! (1995). The album also contains integration of programmed drums and guest contributions by R&B musicians such as Amel Larrieux and D’Angelo, as well as jazz musicians such as David MurraySteve ColemanCassandra WilsonGraham Haynes. In 1998, the album was selected as one of The Source‘s 100 Best Rap Albums. In 2006, the album was selected as one of Hip Hop Connection‘s 100 Best Rap Albums from 1995 to 2005. The master tapes for the album were destroyed in a fire at the Universal Studios back lot in 2008.

Professional Ratings

The New York Times writer Neil Strauss called the album “one of the year’s best rap offerings” and wrote that “The Roots move indiscriminately from politically conscious lyrics (not just about black America but also about Bosnia, the Olympics and terrorism) to silly rhymes (‘roam like a cellular phone/far from home’)”. The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote that “while it doesn’t sacrifice a smidgen of street-level intensity, it reaffirms just how far-reaching (and how far removed from the gangsta stereotype) hip-hop can be”. Tracii McGregor of The Source magazine called it “a thoughtful musical endeavor … an emotional and spiritually fulfilling aural experience”.Spin critic Selwyn Seyfu Hinds described it as “an artistic progression, and added confirmation of the Roots’ place at hip-hop’s vanguard”.The San Diego Union-Tribune‘s Jeff Niesel stated “the Roots find the perfect mixture of jazz and hip-hop for their songs about the hardships of urban life”.


The Village Voice‘s Robert Christgau gave the album a  (neither) rating,which indicates a record that “may impress once or twice with consistent craft or an arresting track or two. Then it won’t.” However, Illadelph Halflife was ranked number 33 on The Village Voice‘s Pazz & Jop critics’ poll of 1996. A 2004 retrospective review by Rolling Stone perceived it as an improvement over the Roots’s previous work, stating “The messages grew more focused on 1996’s Illadelph Halflife, which includes several strident anti-gangsta tirades and taunts. Black Thought replaced the bellicose, confrontational bravado of so many rappers with discussions of fidelity and responsibility”.

Track listing

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length

34.”Intro”  0:34

35.”Respond/React”Ahmir Thompson, Kenyatta Williams, Malik Abdul-BasitTariq TrotterKelo, Black Thought (co.), Questlove (add.) 5:07

36.”Section”Thompson, Kamal Gray, Abdul-Basit, TrotterThe Grand Negaz, Kelo (co.) 4:08

37.”Panic!!!!!”Thompson, Rahzel Brown, TrotterQuestlove, The Grand Negaz (co.), Rahzel (co.) 1:24

38.”It Just Don’t Stop”Gray, Williams, Leonard Hubbard, Abdul-Basit, TrotterKelo4:3

39.”Episodes” (featuring Dice Raw)Thompson, Gray, Karl Jenkins, Melvin Lewis, Abdul-Basit, Trotter, Tracey MooreChaos, Questlove (co.) 5:56

40.”Push Up Ya Lighter” (featuring Bahamadia)Thompson, Antonia Reed, Gray, Abdul-Basit, TrotterThe Grand Negaz, Kelo (co.) 4:36

41.”What They Do” (featuring Raphael Saadiq)Thompson, Gray, Hubbard, Raphael Saadiq, Brown, TrotterQuestlove, The Grand Negaz (co.), Raphael Saadiq (co.) 5:57

42.”? vs. Scratch”Thompson, Kyle JonesQuestlove, Scratch 1:47

43.”Concerto of the Desperado”Williams, TrotterKelo 3:38

44.”Clones” (featuring Dice Raw & M.A.R.S.)Jenkins, Williams, Phillip Blenman, Abdul-Basit, TrotterKelo 4:54

45.”UNIverse at War” (featuring Common)Hubbard, Lonnie Lynn, Lewis, TrotterChaos 4:55

46.”No Alibi”Thompson, Gray, Hubbard, Abdul-Basit, TrotterThe Grand Negaz, Chaos (co.) 5:11

47.”Dave vs. Us”Thompson, David Murray, BrownThe Grand Negaz 0:50

48.”No Great Pretender”Thompson, Brown, Abdul-BasitThe Grand Negaz 4:25

49.”The Hypnotic” (featuring D’Angelo)Thompson, Trotter, Trevant HardsonQuestlove, L.A. Jay (co.), Slimkid3 (co.) 5:19

50.”Ital (The Universal Side)” (featuring Q-Tip)Thompson, Kamaal Fareed, Gray, TrotterThe Grand Negaz, The Ummah (co.) 4:53

51.”One Shine” (featuring Joshua Redman & Cassandra Wilson)Thompson, Hubbard, Scott Storch, TrotterThe Grand Negaz5:40

52.”The Adventures in Wonderland” (featuring Ursula Rucker)Thompson, Ursula RuckerThe Grand Negaz, Questlove (co.) 4:34

53.”Outro”  0:15

  • The track listing on some album releases denotes the first track as track #34, combining the track totals from Organix (17 tracks) and Do You Want More?!!!??! (16 tracks), making 33 total tracks. The rest of the tracks continue upward from 34 to the Outro (being track #53)

Usage of songsEdit

The intro of the song named “Section” is sampled by Jeremy Harding for his “Playground riddim“, which was later used as the instrumental for Beenie Man‘s 1997 single “Who Am I (Sim Simma)“.


Chart (1996) Peak
positionUS Billboard 200 21

US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard) 4


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