“Pitchfork’s Review of The Tipping Point: An ‘Indie-Compatible’ Artifact (Plug Your Nose)”

They might as well just publish a picture of a dictionary with a really ostentatious bookmark thread right next to this text. This “review” which reads like a calculated guerrilla mobilization against the very idea of “fun” epitomizes “indie ethos” in the muddled 2000’s, berating the enterprise of the Grammys [1] and possessing of a terrible self-immolating paradox pertinent to “creativity.” [2]

Another paradox scourging Nick Sylvester’s colorless, general and frankly non-existent claim against this album has to do with his accusation of “organic hip-hop” as a shtick, but how can the same album be guilty of both “Grammy consciousness” and “organic hip-hop sound as a gimmick”? These two things are antithetical to one another: one implies crowd-pleasing (perhaps writing deliberately stupid or sexual music to attract attention and record sales) and the other implies aloofness to the mainstream. Just look at it, over and over: the Grammys do not award “organic hip-hop”: it’s stupid, mainstream and sexual crap that wins.  It’s just entirely unclear what Sylvester wants out of The Roots. In fact, one of his accusations against them is not even artistic, nor even REALLY personnel-related, but geographical: “several Roots members are no longer even Philadelphians.” Well, sh**, Nick, considering they made the first track on the album basically a Sly & The Family Stone song, I think it’s safe to say that you’re a little more concerned with their “geographic integrity” than they are of their own. The function of this first track, similar to the rest of the album, is an excellent snare sound, and basically The Roots doing what no one else does: Jurassic 5 doesn’t even match Black Thought’s imagery (“Tryin’ to play it cooler than a polar bear colony”; “The super black man runnin’ with an ‘S’ on his chest”), and in fact TP was a perfect light, playable and summery followup to Phrenology, everything that its predecessor wasn’t. I happened to see the Roots Crew live in ’05, and they were a blistering cog of hip-hop perfection, Thought sounding as into it as he does on this excellent album and proclaiming “You are rockin’ wit’ the best,” teasing 50 Cent’s “How We Do” and yielding the spotlight to the virtuosic histrionics of Marin Luther. If anything is proven by Nick Sylvester’s wooden, counterintuitive claims against The Tipping Point, it’s that bashin’ this album ain’t easy.
[1] Nick Sylvester complains of the “Grammy-conscious” trademark of The Tipping Point… whereas today we live in a world where, according to prevailing (idiotic) sentiment, “The best music is the most commercial.” To the logical mind, what could Sylvester’s plaint here possibly manifest as just antipathy before the very idea of The Roots’ overall success — critical, cultural-artistic and commercial? He is obviously trying to propagate that commercial success is bad (an opinion which in today’s music commentary seems to have done quite the vanishing act), but he overestimates the inverse proportion of art and popularity in music, rap and otherwise. “Lose Yourself,” for instance, by Eminem, a song whose clout no one would deny, had just won a Grammy the previous year, and Kanye pays unscrupulous paean to the award show in the show-stopping “Crack Music.”
[2] In an opening passage he lauds prior Roots concoction Phrenology because it “welcomed more guest spots than before,” and then jabs at The Tipping Point because it “piles on guest appearances to disguise their lack of creativity.” Concurrently, the absurdity of Sylvester’s “lack of creativity” claim shines more than clear when you consider that Tipping Point follows only by 17 months the sprawling monster that was Phrenology.

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