The Roots

Sometimes to move forward, you have to step back. Shying away from the cracked, free-form jams of 2002's Phrenology, the Roots return to the more traditional boom-bap-cum-Native Tongues aesthetic of their previous work on The Tipping Point. Tracks such as "Stay Cool" and "Boom," carry the torch from Phrenology, but they've also adopted a more muscular and jagged sound, as displayed on the album's first single, "Don't Say Nuthin'." And while ?uestlove and crew lay down some of their hardest-hitting rhythms to date, this is clearly lyricist Black Thought's show. Whether affecting the flow of Kool G. Rap on "Boom," taking aim at George W. Bush on "Why," or spitting a raucous verse on the instantly gratifying basement blues of "The Mic," Black Thought establishes himself as one of the premier lyrical stylists in the game. -- Sam Chennault

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