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With their critically acclaimed catalog and multigenerational appeal, the Roots have always been primed for Grammy recognition. Thus far, though, the hip-hop band has won just once (out of seven nominations): In 1999 it took home best rap performance by a duo or group for "You Got Me."
Stretching themselves creatively -- and becoming the house band for NBC's "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" -- has vastly improved the Roots' odds this year, though. The group is up for six awards for the two albums it released in 2010: "How I Got Over," on which the Philadelphia band collaborated with indie rock darlings Joanna Newsom and the Dirty Projectors, and "Wake Up!," a long-in-the-works set with John Legend that covered socially conscious songs of the '60s and '70s. The latter claimed five of the group's nods, including best R&B album and best R&B song for "Shine," the set's lone original track. "How I Got Over," meanwhile, is up for best rap album, the band's third nomination in that category.
First-week sales of "Wake Up!" and "How I Got Over" remained fairly consistent with those of the group's past sets. The latter debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 with 51,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and the former landed at No. 8 with 63,000, compared with 2008's "Rising Down," which started at No. 6 with 54,000. It seems the boost that many predicted would come from the Roots' gig on "Fallon" could pay off come February.