The Roots

The Tipping Point

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.

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