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The Roots

THE TIPPING POINT (Geffen) • The Roots

Can you dig it? I knew that you could. The Roots have been breaking the rules, setting the pace, and raising the bar since they first appeared thirteen years ago, and this seventh release will surely cross the platinum line, the foundation has been too well laid and the stage is set for this Philly based collective of players, DJs, MCs, sound designers, man, I don't even speak the language yet, just looking for a doorway into the scene.

James Taylor's son Ben turned us on to this group when we interviewed him a while back (see our Archives), after they had already won a Grammy for "You Got Me" on their Gold album Things Fall Apart, and the groundbreaking, near-platinum release Phrenology had hit the stores. He said I could dig it because they were positive rappers, played instruments live, and were old school in many ways, and he was right.

'Cause you know, I'll be damned if I'm gonna miss the whole party just because I'm not sure where the door is and I'm feeling too shy to ring the bell. Hell with that. This is real good, check out "Stay Cool" and "I Don't Care" on the Listen page (and the Parental Advisory is in effect) and the substantive lyrics of front man Black Thought may enchant you. I think I'm gonna go pick up Phrenology and make a few calls, round me up a few peace rappers like Shorty No Mas of DeLaSoul and flesh my collection out a little.

I would comment on the lyrics further, but I don't think I could even read these with magnifiers on, makes my eyes hurt just to think about trying to read them. But the ones I can catch as they fly by tell me that I like where these cats are coming from, that they're serious as a heart attack, and that they seem to care about people and things going in a right direction. The jams are very hard hitting grooves and the rapping is aggressive, but without being violent or sexist. We dig it.

The Tipping Point is definitely part of a new pop blueprint, get into it. You can audition it on the Listen page, and buy it, here. • FG

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