Evolution: that’s what the Roots are all about. Always to carry the old-school banner and add their own flavor, the Philly-based hip-hop act set forth to expand their style on The Tipping Point, their sixth studio album. It’s also the first compilation centering on the group”s emcee, Black Thought.
The Tipping Point may start off slow, but it gets intense rather quickly. Take the album opener, “Star.” It may begin like a sleepy jazz tune, but after thirty seconds, the guitar and drums situate the mood, allowing Black Thought to encourage people to achieve their dreams. This sets the pace for the album because most of the tunes are just as powerful. After listening to “Why (What’s Goin’ On?),” Black Thought releases his emotions about how society has been mistreated and even his feelings towards combat. He spits, “2K4, livin’ above and under the law/Young teen joins the marines, says he’d die for the core/Inducted up into the goverment’s war/ Is it for land or money and oil/Funny how ain’t none of it yours.” Other highlights include “Don’t Say Nuthin,” a club-banger about rising to the top and “Somebody’s Gotta Do It,” a soothing song about getting through rough times.
Although the songs are cleaner on a production level, the Roots still have that rock ‘n’ roll feeling. “Boom” is a perfect example of this. With killer keyboard, insane drumming and intense guitar playing, the joint keeps building up until the chorus kicks in and Black Thought yells “BOOM!” The song has so much energy, it instantly keeps anyone’s attention. Black Thought reinforces this by incorporating a popular board game in his flow. He spits, “I could never let ’em on top of me/I play ’em out like a game of Monopoly/Let it speed around the board like an astro/And send them to jail for tryna pass go.” If you like this, you’ll flip over “Web,” a fast paced freestyle over a rock sound and a special hidden track “The Mic,” which features several guest artists expressing their love for the rap game.
There are few artists who combine energy, originality and reality into their music and yet still capture audiences with charisma and style. The Roots fill this void. Honestly, if this is just The Tipping Point, then I don’t think the world can handle the next Roots album.
The Roots: The Tipping Point
Rating: 4 1/2 Stars
Record Label: Geffen