The showcase of hip-hop overachievers seems at first offing to be an effort toward creating one of the most dour concerts of the year, given "conscious" rap's reputation for PBS-correct depictions of urban dwelling. The Roots, however, have become more interesting and more verbally aggro, following the failure of 1999's Things Fall Apart, 2002's Phrenology, and the recent The Tipping Point to make them superstar backpackers. The quartet of ?uestlove, Black Thought, Black Ink, Kamal, and Hub has lately eschewed soulful sounds for more straight-head bass-and-bombast, and a live show by these constantly touring veterans could be instructive if not incendiary. Jean Grae who posited in a now-famous op-ed piece this past year for Allhiphop.com: "Fuck the rap game. It's not about the music or the heart or how hard you play...." had a guest spot on The Tipping Point, but as a solo performer, she rocks the mike in a singularly strange manner both fierce and fragile. Bonus points and coupons for free sprouts at Whole Foods to those who show up early for an opener by Common.
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