The Japanese import version includes a previously unreleased track ("Melting Pot").
Since their inception, Philadelphia's Roots could always be counted on to expand the edges of hip-hop. PHRENOLOGY marked the height of the troupe's experimentation with punk breaks, long jazz loops, and raps ranging from the hardcore to the whimsical. For that album's follow-up, THE TIPPING POINT, the outfit smoothes off some of the edges for a more conventional rap release, but as it's a Roots record, the result is still resoundingly innovative.
When the theme from the TV show KNIGHT RIDER is inserted into "Don't Say Nuthin'," what ensues is a sinister sonic landscape. When the Roots throw in a previously mined sample, as with Al Hirt's "Harlem Hendo" on "Stay Cool," they twist it around and break it down in a manner no other artist would even imagine. Meanwhile, Black Thought, that MC of immeasurable coolness, flies fancifully over the beats and grooves with the greatest of ease, flexing his muscle on "Web" and laying back on "I Don't Care." THE TIPPING POINT is a simple outing by Roots standards, but still a refreshing and remarkable album.
What the critics say...
Rolling Stone (p.108) - 3 stars out of 5 - "[With] buttery pop choruses, hard-as-hell hookless spitting, jittery programmed beats...and it's got a bunch of impressive ideas."
Spin (pp.101-2) - "THE TIPPING POINT is a different kind of change-up: a straight-ahead rap album with tracks culled from a variety of mostly unknown producers....The last tracks is a testament to the group's golden A&R touch." - Grade: B
Entertainment Weekly (p.76) - "[A]n eclectic and often breezy reimagining of hip-hop's energetic essence." - Grade: B+
Q (p.113) - 3 stars out of 5 - "[With] structure, innocence and a polished pop sensibility, albeit of a subtle, measured kind....It feels like a whole lot of fun."
Vibe (p.140) - 4 out of 5 - "[O]pting for politically charged rhymes and melodic, accessible beats, Black Thought, ?uestlove, and company overflow with potential singles."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.92) - 3 stars out of 5 - "[I]t's on the swarming, free-form 'Outro' that The Roots sound most alive....[The] tension makes THE TIPPING POINT's finest moments so electrifying."