From the time their under-the-radar debut Organix dropped in 1994, it has been a steady evolution for The Roots. Their mind bending talents were evident at every turn and with each ensuing release critics and fans alike constantly called for The Roots to spread their wings, push the envelope, etc. Being a band, an incredible one at that, the sky seemed the limit for their music. The sky was not the limit, Phrenology was. The envelope was pushed, and many were scared, they complained, they criticized; they seemed to miss the point. So now there is a new point, and it is most certainly The Tipping Point. As it was, The Roots were either gonna push the envelope further, or they were gonna tear it up and start from scratch.
Tear it up they did. The Tipping Point is simple and it’s raw, and it is flawless. To be fair, none of those adjectives are entirely true. Everything this crew does is complex and very polished, even when they are doing simple and raw. And yes, there are some flaws. I could really nitpick and say that the hook for The Mic doesn’t work, or point out that Don’t Say Nuthin‘ isn’t “their sound.” However, The Mic is a great song and Don’t Say Nuthin‘ is even better, I don’t care if it is easily consumable. $50 steaks are easily consumed too. Rocking a Sly and the Family Stone sample, Star kicks off the album in tremendous fashion. Black Thought in particular sets the tone for the album. See, Tariq is one of the most unappreciated emcees ever to hold a cordless and it would seem he no longer intends to be overlooked. Example, “Kids calls themselves killers, let their hands do the talking/don’t even know the meaning of life/ain’t seen a thing/and you dreaming/flooding the scenery/with yayo and greenery/but for now, you stickin’ em with the heavy machinery.”
Bearing witness to Thought‘s exploits here may leave you in tears. It would be logical to assume that Boom features BT alongside those Juice Crew legends Big Daddy Kane and Kool G Rap. The deliveries, the voices, the flows, hell, even G Rap‘s lisp is in tact, and why shouldn’t it be? Well because it is Black Thought, not Kane and G Rap. Even Kane is scratching his head wondering when he collaborated with The Roots. Then you’ve got The Web, 3 minutes of in-the-park, hand-on-the-nuts, showing-and-proving rhymes over a raw, bare bones track. Off the dome to boot? Marinate on that. Plus to silence critics who accuse him of not saying shit (gotta complain about something right?), Thought tackles a multitude of subjects, from poverty to war and many a social ill in between.
Of course, with the production what it is, it isn’t always easy to focus on Thought‘s thoughts. Just try not getting caught up in Guns Are Drawn or Duck Down. Or get through Somebody’s Gotta Do It without signing Devin The Dude‘s hook to yourself the whole time. Actually I can manage when I hear Jean Grae‘s sexy voice. What else can I really say? Stay Cool is just so slick, I Don’t Care is dope as hell and Why? is as good a song as The Roots have ever made. It just doesn’t get much better than this, so for the second time this year I’ve gotta do something I rarely do. Look at those boxes full of X’s up there, it is that serious.