First Listen: John Legend & the Roots Want You to 'Wake Up!'

The musicians ready their politically motivated new song from their upcoming covers album

Photo: Courtesy Sony Music

John Legend and hip-hop band the Roots have teamed up to record Wake Up!, a funky, old school-inspired album featuring covers of classic songs from Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway and more.

“It says it all in the title,” John Legend says. “It’s saying we can’t depend on the older generation to fix everything for us; we gotta educate ourselves, empower ourselves and use the power that we have to make the world better.”

The collaboration between Legend and the Roots, who are known for their jazzy, eclectic use of live instruments, and also also serve as the house band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, first began as an idea during the 2008 election.

“If you can kind of transport your mind to what everyone was feeling at that time, there was a lot of energy in the country, a lot of feelings that we could all do something to make the country better and the world better,” says Legend. “So we went back to music from the 60s and 70s where again, there was this feeling that young people were empowered and could do a lot in the world.

Now, has your exclusive first listen of the bass-heavy first single, “Wake Up Everybody,” which also features Common and Melanie Fiona.

Check it out here:

You can also pre-order the album, which is due in stores Sept. 21.

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