The Roots – The Tipping Point
Released in 2004, The Tipping Point is quite a curious hip hop album. One of the main things that The Roots pride themselves on is having live accompaniment. You may recognize them as the house band for Late Night with Jimmy Kimmel, but that is only the latest chapter in the bands decades long existence.
Many artists have rotated in and out of The Roots line-up over the years, including Scott Storch, renowned beatboxer Rahzel, ?uestlove and Martin Luther. The band has also done collaborative work with Talib Kweli, Common, Nas, Dave Chappell, Spike Lee and the Dave Matthews Band.
The Tipping Point takes a more commercial turn, as compared to their six previous albums. The album provides a much more free-from feel to the flows, blending tempos and beats from upbeat to spaced out spoken word. The lyrics on the album are phenomenal, poetry that you would expect to hear at slams in the heart of Brooklyn.
This album is a paramount example of how hip hop can be augmented and improved through the use of real instruments. While hip hop has always been dominated with sampling, drum machines and record scratches, the fullness presented in this album through real drums, actual thumping basslines, real funky guitars, keys and other elements really defies any expectations of how the genre could be and shows how it should be. From the upbeat “I Don’t Care”, which has a funky groove feel to “Don’t Say Nuthin’”, which is a gritty, back-alley snitch anthem, this album covers all sorts of styles.
For me, “Don’t Say Nuthin’” really stood out among the other tracks on the album for one perhaps tongue in cheek reason – the song, while performed by illustrious Black Thought, has some interesting lyrics, but the entire chorus is a series of mumbles. At first that really threw me off, but it gives an interesting street-level perspective to the music.
“Somebody’s Gotta Do It” has one of the most liquidy-smooth freestyle flows that I’ve heard, featuring Jean Grae:
“Mic malevolence defies violence I inherited
Others just rentin’ it like rooms at the Sheraton
I gotta jones like Vanessa in the devil in-
And y’all cold like a show in the Netherlands
Cold shoulders and frozen aortic valves -
So I don’t form pals – conform to norms – morals different
Gifted – use it to shift shit, a mutant shape shifter when I spit it I’m liquid
You could lick a million shots at the character of the body shell
They’ll just richochette n*gga aura’s hard as hell
Before there was ain’t hard to tell
The mic’s cycle coincided right with mine as well
Since a minor I walked with the spine up-straight
I learned to rhyme to feed the dinner plate
I scraped barrel – even dined up on wine and steaks
Cuz in the bone same marrow that apartheid chased
The narrow margin with the haves and the have nots
Will get smaller as I approach – so watch your stash box
Fox logo if your fave is local
Get bruised till you’re the color of the Laker’s logo
This is work”