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July 19, 2004 - Image 10

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2004-07-19

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, July 19, 2004

ARTS

The Roots disappoint with Point

By Andrew Gaerig
Daily Arts Editor
MUSIC REVI EW
Rappers would have their fans believe
that they're off-the-cuff, spontaneous
thugs who are just as
likely to bust out a The Roots
freestyle verse as a
handgun. For every The Tipping
rapper that sounds Point
believably sponta- Geffen i
neous, there are two
dozen more who sound like they spent
hours looking for a word that rhymes
with Hennesy.
The Roots have always had an advan-
tage in this department: Their tight, jazzy
arrangements sound jammy enough for
lead MC Black Thought to effectively
"freestyle" over. Their "rap band" status,
as well as their undeniable skill, has
always made them seem looser, more
capable and more natural than your aver-
age MC.
On 2002's Phrenology, the Roots
made key strides in avoiding the dreaded
"novelty" corner into which their musi-
cal proficiency threatened to paint them:
The album incorporated more common
rap elements - drum machines, synthe-
sizers - into their accomplished jam. At
that point, they had avoided real errors.

Consider their first misstep, The
Tipping Point. For the first time in the
group's career, their skill as songwriters
and composers is called into question.
Never have the Roots sounded colder,
more calculating and utterly out of step
with their core sound.
Like Phrenology, The Tipping Point
delves into sounds and textures that
aren't considered classic Roots, but that's
hardly the album's problem. Nearly
every song on The Tipping Point sounds
like a starry-eyed love letter to current
hip-hop trends, approximating the
genre's hollow fads while sacrificing
much of the Roots' charm and appeal.
First single "Don't Say Nuthin"' is an
obvious rehashing of dirty South rap-
ping, complete with blips, bleeps and an
aggressive, rumbling chorus. It's not
exactly a Lil' John production, but the
chorus betrays any good intentions.
"Don't Say Nuthin' " is unquestionably
one of the worstpieces to bear the Roots'
name on it.
Perhaps even more disappointing is
that Black Thought's phoning it in as a
lyricist. "I don't care / Long as the bass
line's bumping /The drum beat's banging
away / Make one move and I'll blow you
away." What the fuck is that supposed to
mean? "Stay Cool" is nearly as bad:
"Stay cool motherfucker /Ya'll know the

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