Okayplayer - 2004 - 66 minutes

This hugely influential Philadelphia crew ploughed an intelligent, jazzy furrow for their first few albums before scoring a big crossover hit with 'You Got Me' from the 'Things Fall Apart' album. The follow-up, 'Phrenology', was a frenetic mixture of styles from punk rock to drum'n'bass and was one of the more interesting hip-hop albums of the last few years, though the sales were disappointing.

With talented instrumentalists as full-time band members, the Roots are also a formidable live proposition. Drummer ?uestlove adds a fabulously organic sound. He is in demand, having recently brought his slick syncopation to tracks by Joss Stone, D'Angelo and Justin Timberlake.

Despite lacking the high concept of 'Phrenology', or the shock of the new of their early records, 'The Tipping Point' is still a quality proposition. The cover version of Sly Stone's 'Star' might be a strange choice of opener, but the slick sounds and typically sharp lyrics of 'Stay Cool' and 'Somebody's Gotta Do It' give the album a powerful backbone that compensates for the weakness of some of the cuts included.

The closer, 'Why (What's Going On)' starts as an attractively languid meditation on modern life, turns into an upbeat posse cut, flips into a rambling jazzy improvisation before ending up as an sweet Amp Fiddler-style soul instrumental. It's almost a mini-album unto itself. The CD also packs an epic bonus track, a ten-minute version of Booker T's 'Melting Pot' that elegantly showcases the band's instrumental skills.

Luke McManus

Tracklisting: Star/Pointro - I Don't Care - Don't Say Nuthin - Guns Are Drawn - Stay Cool - Web - Boom - Somebody's Gotta Do It - Duck Down - Why (What's Going On) - Melting Pot