The Roots, at least to me, have been one of those--fewer than I like--Hip-Hop/Rap groups that have not watered down their message and their recognition of what's going on in the world around us, to deliver a strong groove and reach a wide audience.
To begin, I'm not planning to compare it to prior albums--since we all have favorites, and taste is ultimately a personal thing--but I'll say that considering this album a lesser outing than whichever Roots' CD you already adore is a huge disservice to this music. Game Theory is very strong, both musically and lyrically.
Although, more than any prior releases, this is a "suite" of songs rather than a collection, there are several tracks that simply stand out. The "in-your-face" message of "False Media," the gorgeous and thoughtful "Clock With No Hands," or "Can't Stop This"--a moving tribute to the late J-Dilla--are, each in its own way, truly remarkable. This is not to say that greatness stops there but there has been enough said about other tracks already, along with the praise justly given to the augmented band, in which "Captain Kirk" Douglas' guitar shines throughout.
In the midst of endless and pathetic reality shows, and the constant media covering of worthless celebrities's innermost inane life events, The Roots remind us without apologizing that things are ... well, pretty screwed up. In that sense--along with some of the work of Kanye West, Eminem and Commom, to name a few--these guys follow on the illustrious politically conscious Rap path blazed by Public Enemy.
PS: Although not a friend of "clean" versions--I believe an artist words must be respected even when they may not be comfortable or appropriate by one's standards--I hope that having the option of both releases increases even further The Roots' following. They are definitely worth it, and their message much needed.