On their sixth album, the Roots backslide a bit on the creative promise they showed with 2002's Phrenology
. Instead of expanding into more ambitious and experimental areas--the way Outkast has, for example--the Roots tend to fall back to basics with vigorous, but ultimately conventional, lyricism. There are definitely some truly great moments here: the album opens with near-magic on "Star," a mesmerizing song that is one of the finest of the group's career, and Black Thought is a one-man tour de force on "Boom!" where he mimics Big Daddy Kane and Kool G Rap down to their velour sweats. But The Tipping Point
also has some of their blandest production ever, and, at 10 tracks (plus two hidden cuts), the compactness of the album makes the problem spots stand out more than usual. "I Don't Care" and "Duck Down!" in particular seem derivative and commercially tailored. The main thing missing here is an overall guiding concept, something the Roots have never lacked before. --Oliver Wang
Japanese Release featuring a Bonus Track: 'melting Pot'.