Is there any more improbable force for good in hiphop than The Roots? In this deeply apolitical and commercialized age in MC-dom, the Philadelphia-born-and-bred collective has kept its head down and focused long and hard on, you know, shit that matters. While ?uestlove has received his just due from the culture for his jazz-influenced production, Black Thought has remained an underappreciated lyricist. His meditations on gutter-life in a second-tier American city and hiphop's saving grace ("Act Too," from Things Fall Apart); love on the creep ("Break You Off," from Phrenology); and standard braggin' raps ("Proceed," from Do you Want More?!!!??!) deserve a higher rank than the private they've been relegated to. But on Rising Down, it all comes together in a dark, brooding brew that reflects the dangerous, fractured times we're living in. The world may be "spinning out of control," but The Roots, as ever, are on point. With DJ Marc Sense Neumo's, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $15.
Thu., June 5, 8 p.m., 2008