Tropidelic fuses rock, reggae, funk, hip hop
Since Tropidelic’s 2006 formation, its founder Matt Roads has endured two full lineup changes and one scrapped album.
Following those obstacles, he made the group’s triumphant full-length debut, “All Heads Unite,” just the way he wanted and now has seven band members that bring the passion, precision and energy to the group’s fusion of reggae, rock, funk and hip hop.
Despite the struggles of keeping Tropidelic’s career on track, Roads is definitely pleased with the way matters turned out. “I’ve done a really good job of not losing any momentum. It only took a few months in 2011 when that group reformed and got back on our feet and going. Each lineup has been bigger and better,” he said during a phone interview.
Not letting any setbacks slow him down, Roads made “All Heads Unite” during the transition into its current lineup.
“I took on this whole project, me orchestrating everything. Brought in friends that could co-write songs with me and then that’s when I started to find my players for this lineup now. Some of this lineup is on the record. Some of them aren’t. I play some of the instruments. Some people outside of the band play instruments.
“I pulled all my resources together. It was me reorganizing at that point because I still wanted to get this music out ASAP.”
Seamlessly combining other styles with its core reggae sound, the album displays Tropidelic’s maturation as an artist. Previous fans can find pleasures in “Only Rider” and “Landlord,” while “Headphones” is straight hip hop and funk fuels “Do Right” and “Gritz.”
The album’s first single, “NAWC,” highlights the combination of groove, strong melody and message. The lyrical content was influenced by Roads trying to keep his dreams alive in the middle of a recession as well as the Occupy movement that focused on wealth inequality and job stagnation for today’s youth.
“A lot of it was the contrast of what I was going through and life in general, just living in Cleveland and focusing on what I can accomplish in my life that’s not necessarily tied to monetary profits.
“I’m a post-college grad kid trying to pay down his student loan and feeling the weight of the world bearing down.”
Overall, Tropidelic’s music should appeal to fans of 311, Sublime, Michael Franti & Spearhead yet the Cleveland group maintains enough individuality to avoid aping anyone.
Of all the comparisons, Roads particularly looks to Slightly Stoopid as an inspiration. “They’re doing a great job of keeping things very diverse, and we fall into that. We even run the gamut (of styles) a little bit more than some of these other guys.
“In the first few years it was, ‘Oh, these guys sound like Sublime.’ We’re deeper than that.”
“At the beginning it was like, ‘We gotta write some reggae rock songs.’ We were into it or we wouldn’t be able to do it. Now, it’s, ‘Let’s write music’ and whatever comes out comes out. It certainly helped us along the way. At this point we’ve blazed our own trail.”
Formed in Kent by college roommates with a mutual love for reggae, Tropidelic started out mainly as a party band. “We were college kids partying all the time and lived around the corner from the Robin Hood, where I worked as a bouncer and booked the shows. So, we were always partying and bringing the party back with us to our place.
“It’s still very much like that but it’s far more orchestrated now and we’re a lot more conscious and professional about what we’re doing. We all take it really serious.”