Who is Redford Stephens? a wild speculative riff on my first listen of The Roots “undun”

I love The Roots..maybe it in part because I was born in Philly maybe it’s my connection and love to Philadelphia music culture through my father Freddie Joiner (MFSB, SalSoul Orchestra, Philadelphia International Records, Sigma Sound,etc), or maybe it’s because they are so serious about their craft…whatever it is I really admire their approach to their art even if i don’t always buy in right (or understand) the work right way. Like a lot of good art you have to grapple with it or it inspires you grapple with it (or the ideas in it).

I have to admit…I have not given undun a close listen yet (although, i definitely will) nor have i purchased it (again, I will be purchasing it)…I did however listen to undun on NPR’s First Listen Program.

In looking at their discography it clear that language and including a litreary sensibilty  is important to the music that they are making, undun is no different. This title turns on an axis of meaning, leaving us as reader listeners what narrative to build. the Free Dictionary defines undone as 1.undone – not done, 2.undone – doomed to extinction, 3.undone – not fastened or closed or tied or secured, 4. undone – thrown into a state of disorganization or incoherence.

In considering all of these definitions, acted as confirmation as to what might be behind the the curious case of Redford Stephens. Asname poet, I am alway consider how a thing feels  in the mouth and sounds to the ear as i consider Redford Stephens it had a very familiar syllabic structure (syllabically similar to the song Rapper’s Delight on which was released on Sugar Hill Records which was founded in1974) , this too acted as another confirmation that my suspicion might be getting warmer. The I re-considered the dates (1974- 1999)…could it possible that Redford Stephens is an extended metaphor for Hip-Hop…I know…I know some people are going to claim that I am being to shortsighted by “closing the canon”  of Hip-Hop at 1999, but there are many people who claim the come of the millennium marked the beginning of the end for Hip-Hop as we knew it..that something had indeed become undone or rather undun.

Additionally, as many extended metaphors dothis metaphor of Redford Stephens comes out of the art itself and is making a commentary about what is happening in  out in the world. As Questlove admits interview in SPIN that the reality is that Redford Stephens is a composite of many young African American men, men that are close and dear to the hearts of The Roots (Black Thought in particular).

So that is my guess on who Redford Stephens might be I am sure someone else out there is thinking the same thing, but not wanting to put it out there because okayplayers can rked the beginning of the end for Hip-Hop as we knew it..that something had indeed become undone or rather be kind of brutal, if they sense any cliche, undeveloped conspiracy theories or empty rhetoric…I have seen some epic internet beatdown on the “the Boards” back in the day ( i have not been on the Boards for at least 11 or 12 years).

Anyway, i can’t wait to hear The Roots talk a little more extensively about the album and the any more possible symbolism in the name Redford Stephens…

undone– not done; “the work could be done or undone and nobody cared”

unfinished – not brought to an end or conclusion; “unfinished business”; “the building is still unfinished”
2. undone - doomed to extinctionundone– doomed to extinction

unsuccessful – not successful; having failed or having an unfavorable outcome
3. undone - not fastened or tied or securedundone– not fastened or tied or secured; “her blouse had come undone at the neck”; “his shoelaces were undone”

unfastened – not closed or secured; “the car door was unfastened”; “unfastened seatbelts”
4. undone– thrown into a state of disorganization or incoherence; “price programs became unstuck because little grain was available”

disorganised, disorganized – lacking order or methodical arrangement or function; “a disorganized enterprise”; “a thousand pages of muddy and disorganized prose”; “she was too disorganized to be an agreeable roommate”

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