on 6 September 2006
Game Theory captures the energy of the Roots' live shows, and is a welcome return to form following the patchy (yet still entertaining) Tipping Point. The album mixes the crisp beats and wordplay of Things Fall Apart with the ferocity and eclecticism of Phrenology. Importantly, the band have trimmed the fat from some of their more self-indulgenct work - no spoken word or avant garde jazz here, and no tracks outstays its welcome.
The resulting effort is a rewarding listen, buoyed by the return of Malik B and excellent guitar work from new member Captain Kirk, whose onstage antics were a highlight of last year's international shows. Black Thought also brings a renewed energy to his role as frontman of what is far and away the best hip hop band in the world.
Highlights include the fury and energy of In The Music and Here I Come, the shuffling, strangely compelling Baby, and the soulful, uplifting Long Time, which may be the catchiest Roots track since The Seed 2.0. The album also doesn't want for variety, with Livin' In The New World evoking the nerdy funk of Beck and the Beastie Boys and the languid Atonement built around a sample from Radiohead's You and Whose Army.
All in all, a beautiful and powerful album from hip hop's finest.
on 1 September 2006
Anyone who knows their hip-hop knows that The Roots are a cornerstone of the genre in its most pure form. From their early days with Organix and Do You Want More? they established themselves as a truly homegrown, organic hip hop band and since have only put out quality records. Some fans criticised them with the release of their Phrenology album, saying they had begun to sound too commercial and polished, but really we know these Roots were and still are pushing boundaries and making the music they wanna make.
On that note, I'll just say: this album is killer. Their first album on DefJam (one of the founding father labels of hiphop) and in my opinion it at least matches any of their best works. The tracks flow together like a mixtape and showcase a great diversity between songs. My favourite songs on the album are In The Music (Malik B is back!!) and Long Time, but they're all so consistent it would be hard not to list the whole tracklist. A special mention goes to Atonement (track 12), because it samples 'You And Whose Army?' by Radiohead; my favourite band next to The Roots themselves.
In short, if you like music, go and buy this album. If you like real hip hop, well, you should have it already.
on 6 November 2006
I don't often write reviews for things however, here's an all important exception. Game Theory has got to be one of the finest hip hop albums I have heard since day one. That's not just another regular statement you might say when you're feeling an album or even just one banging track, it's a genuine truth. The album is very strong lyrically and musically outstanding (a much better sound for hip hop!)
There's a well crafted mix of hip hop, funk and rock in this album. It's almost what hip hop needed. I can imagine a live show would be a stand out too.
There are many albums out today that have a few good tracks which you'll listen to but this plays as an album not just an excuse to press the skip button. There are a couple of tracks near the end of the album that are slightly poorer (I think) than the rest, not really feeling "Clock With no Hands." Still, it deserves 5 stars. Buy it, whatever your main attraction in music is, so long as you're open, you won't be dissapointed! Game Theory will certainly remain a stand out classic in my collection from now on, amongst all genres.
on 1 September 2006
(4.5 stars) On first listen I was a bit disappointed by this album but the more I hear it the better it gets. Since my favourite album of all time is Phrenology this had a lot to live up to and it is a lot darker and moodier than any of their previous stuff but it works so well. Black Thoughts rhymes on this really shine and Malik B is much more involved than in the last few albums, with both rapping politics and war. My favourite track on the album is "In the Music" and has an amazing verse from Thought about street tragedies in Philly. Other highlights are "Game Theory", "Dont Feel Right", "False Media", "Here I come" (which sounds very similar to Boom off the last album). Go out and buy this album now
on 24 September 2006
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.
on 15 November 2012
I actually wasn't that fussed about Phrenology but Game Theory has an intensity and edge that completely worked for me. If you only listened to four tracks - 'Game Theory', 'Don't Feel Right', 'Long Time' and 'Here I Come', then it would still be worth the entrance fee. These are admittedly the more musical moments of what is pretty stripped-down, ruthlessly bare sound. The glorious musical marriage of ?uestlove and Black Thought provide a spine of furiously direct hip-hop which runs right through the album.
They've not done anything as good before or since, in my opinion.
on 4 May 2008
This 4 me is the best roots album!i love it great buy so if u like the roots then pick it up
on 20 October 2006
As albums go there is not one I can think of which is as good song by song. Sheer brilliance, some of the timing between music and lyrics is inspired, truly awesome listen, stayed in my car CD player for 2 weeks solid.
on 20 December 2006
You can only hope that the story Hip Hop of echoes the story of Def Jam. This once proud and inspirational label fell off after selling out (admittedly the only way they could have survived) and after producing weak artists (DMX, FoxyBrown, Sisqo) for the money finally found their soul again when they signed the Roots last year.
This paranoid & edgy album is Def Jam's proudest recent moment. We can only pray that Hip Hop follows suit and finds its soul again.
on 12 September 2013
Great album,Black Thought always on point great lyrics great delivery great instrumentals showing the the roots never disappoint when drop a album.