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The Tipping Point

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Album Review

The delivery of any new Roots album is rarely talked or written about without the words "highly" and "anticipated," and The Tipping Point is no exception. Besides the usual expectation for the band's superior lyrical skills and attention to detail, there's the previously announced concept that The Tipping Point would be recorded through free-spirited jams that would later be edited down. Sounds like a don't-care-about-the-final-package, music-for-music's-sake release, but the album is a well-constructed ride from start to finish that's perfect for a headphones-on, lights-out evening and a gift to fans who found 2002's Phrenology a bit mannered and forced. To paraphrase the album's "Pointro," the tracks here are mostly warm and organic "life music" that "thrusts its branches from the muck of wackness" without any overly calculated "hypnotic donkey rhythms." The ghost of Sly & the Family Stone is summoned for the opening "Star," an exuberant soul rocker that creeps along with a Timbaland-style beat, only it's live. On the other hand, there's the perfect for popping, locking, and robot-dancing "Don't Say Nuthin'" with its solid electro and Black Thought's quirky mumbled verse. The shifting from the sticky, stately reggae of "Guns Are Drawn" to the Cohiba-puffing swagger of "Stay Cool" is just one example of how the album overcomes its noncommitment to any particular groove by giving the listener nothing but fully formed, inspired tracks. The band's renewed love of head-bobbing jams also helps keep it together although the album's long stretches of rap-less jamming might alienate those just here for the message. For them there's the lyric-filled "Boom!," which may not be enough. Take off your academic backpack for a change and bask in an album that's comfortably loose and ends with an over-the-top, celebratory cover of George Kranz's "Din Daa Daa" that's unnecessary but extra fun. The Tipping Point is too modest to be the "idea that spreads like a virus" that's explored in the Malcolm Gladwell book the collection cops it title from. What the album lacks in ambition and social commentary, it makes up for with deep soul. That should be enough to make whatever this group does next "highly anticipated."

Customer Reviews

No. 1

Best roots album of all!


Formed: 1987 in Philadelphia, PA

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the most prolific rap groups, the Roots were also among the most progressive acts in contemporary music, from their 1993 debut through their conceptual 2010s releases. Despite the seemingly archaic practice of functioning as a rap band with several instrumentalists -- from 2007 onward, their lineup even featured a sousaphonist -- they were ceaselessly creative, whether with their own material, or through their varied assortment of collaborations. They went platinum and gold with successive...
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The Tipping Point, The Roots
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