President Barack Obama won the historic United States election in late 2008. America was ripe for change, and Obama represented hope. Music powerhouses John Legend and The Roots were among the millions inspired by Obama, creating the album Wake Up! as a musical reaction to the events leading up to the election. 'This album was conceived in the heat of the summer of 2008 in the middle of a passionate election campaign that represented change and hope,' says Legend, a six-time Grammy Award winner. '[The election] awakened a new generation of activists who had never been inspired before.' Originally the pairing only intended to release a single. But it eventually became an EP before blossoming into an 11-track album. Many of the production decisions were politically motivated. Once the record was completed, the group decided to delay its release: 'We held off for a year to see if the songs could still stand no matter the political climate of Washington,' says The Roots drummer Ahmir '?uestlove' Thompson. Legend first entered the music scene primarily as a vocalist for big-name artists like Kanye West and Alicia Keys. His debut album, Get Lifted, featured the massive number one single Number One, featuring West. Philadelphia hip-hop pioneers The Roots have been in the game since the early '90s and are known for fusing live instrumentals with rhymes. Now, after the Obama hype has fizzled, the lyrics are still relevant and the music still resonates with people. 'These songs sound so relevant now,' Legend says. 'On most of them, you wouldn't change a lyric.' Wake Up Everybody includes lyrics about education, health care and making a better environment. No editing is needed. Legend says the album features 'funky, soulful black music from the '60s and '70s. And despite the political influence, he maintains that the music is still the most important part of it. Their collaboration is a self-conscious, gritty take on soulful hip-hop, minus the commercialism of modern pop. 'We wanted to have a bit of that angst, because that's hip-hop - it wasn't all 'Let's hold hands', it was, 'Man, this sucks'...because everything is so autotuned and produced and has so much of a sheen on it. We wanted to do something kinda dirty,' Legend says.