The Roots are an American hip-hop group from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The band was founded by Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter in 1987 while they were both enrolled at The Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing arts. They played their first organized gig at a school talent show in 1989.
In 1992, another MC, Malik B., and a permanent bass player, Leonard "Hub" Hubbard, were added to the band before the release of their first album. The band would move to London after being unable to break through the Philadelphia scene; there, they would release their 1993 debut album Organix and gain a following in Europe, leading to their label signing with DGC/Geffen.
The Roots saw commercial success with their label debut Do You Want More?!!!??!, released one year after signing to DGC. During its recording process, the band added beatboxer Rahzel and keyboardist Scott Storch to the lineup. The group released Illadelph Halflife in 1996, their first record to break the Top 40 on the Billboard 200 chart. Scott Storch left the band and was replaced by a new keyboardist, Kamal Gray. During this period, the group was heavily influenced by Wu-Tang Clan and RZA’s sound, landing them in the neo-soul subgenre.
The 1999 album Things Fall Apart would be their breakthrough album, peaking at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 chart. In 2002, the group released Phrenology, which earned them a Grammy for Best Rap Album, followed by The Tipping Point (2004). The album earned two more Grammy nominations: one for Best Urban/Alternative Performance for the track "Star/Pointro," and another for Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group for the track "Don't Say Nuthin'."
In 2008, comedian Jimmy Fallon approached The Roots, looking for a backing band for his late-night show. The group has served as the house band since 2009.