...the power of this band to move feet as well as minds remains undiminished.
Jack Smith 2004
It would be easy to view The Roots' sixth studio album as the link between hip hop's golden past and - hopefully - a vision of its shining future. Easy, but simplistic. Certainly Black Thought, ?uestlove and co run the gamut from block party breaks ("Web" and "Boom!") through early 90s consciousness (the sampling of a De La Soul sample on "Stay Cool") to whatever Pharrell might currently be cooking up (new single "Don't Say Nuthin'" or the clattering "Duck Down!") with consummate ease.
But what they actually strive for is far more ambitious, and way beyond mere genre boundaries. Cherry picked from a series of jam sessions, The Tipping Point draws from black music period. From the opening cover (read: reinvention) of Sly Stone's "Everybody Is A Star" to a closing instrumental flurry that flits effortlessly between jazz, funk, rock and reggae - even disco - it could well be the Philadelphian's finest hour.
In other hands, tampering with Sly would have resulted in some P Diddyesque nightmare. That The Roots can transform a bona fide classic into a reaffirmation of their own strengths ("hip hop it's not pop like Kylie Minogue") while also retaining the positive sentiment of the original is no mean feat.
Equally bold are breaker's anthem "Boom!", "Stay Cool" (which finds them feeling "cooler than Clyde Stubblefield, drummer for James") and "Why". The latter, a shout out for those "giving everything they got to stitch swishes on ya Nikes, puttin' pockets on our jeans, buying diamonds for them rings", is as compelling a statement as hip hop has made for some time. Much more of this and they'll be donning capes and Y-fronts over their trousers.
In short, the power of this band to move feet as well as minds remains undiminished. I mean, what is there that The Roots can't do? Besides that question mark - and the one hovering in front of ?uestlove's name - the only wonder is just where they head from here.