John Legend and The Roots recorded Wake Up! during the time of the 2008 United States presidential election. In addition to The Roots, John Legend and Black Thought, the album features guest appearances from vocalists Common, C.L. Smooth, Melanie Fiona, and Malik Yusef. Wake Up! is comprised of covers of soul songs from the 1960s and 1970s containing socially active themes. The Wake Up! project sees John Legend and The Roots putting their distinct touch on classics from the likes of Marvin Gaye, Nina Simone, Donny Hathaway, the Teddy Pendergrass-led Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, and more.