If The Tipping Point, the sixth studio album by Philadelphia hip-hop crew the Roots, sounds like it lacks the genre-busting centerpiece each of the band's previous albums has featured, it's because it does. There's nothing here as instantly ear-catching as "You Got Me," the svelte hyperballad from 1999's Things Fall Apart, or "The Seed (2.0)," the crackling garage rocker from 2002's Phrenology. Instead, the Roots have undertaken a self-conscious return to those eternal hip-hop building blocks: beats, rhymes and life. Listen past your initial impression of stasis and you'll hear great, warm things: a sly, lopsided groove in "I Don't Care"; MC Black Thought's impenetrable mumble in "Don't Say Nuthin'"; drummer ?uestlove's tight snare hits in "Guns Are Drawn"; the chattering menace producer Scott Storch gives "Duck Down!" Preproduction on The Tipping Point involved freewheeling jam sessions at the Roots' Philly studio space, and you can hear that; these tunes feel like a great after-party to a main event you've heard and will hear again.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.