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Game Theory

Game Theory

4.5 2
by The Roots

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Game Theory is the Roots' equivalent of a Funkadelic playlist containing "Wars of Armageddon," "Cosmic Slop," "Maggot Brain," "March to the Witch's Castle," and "America Eats Its Young." It's a vivid reflector of the times, not an escape hatch (of which there are several readily available options). Spinning


Game Theory is the Roots' equivalent of a Funkadelic playlist containing "Wars of Armageddon," "Cosmic Slop," "Maggot Brain," "March to the Witch's Castle," and "America Eats Its Young." It's a vivid reflector of the times, not an escape hatch (of which there are several readily available options). Spinning turbulence, paranoia, anger, and pain into some of the most exhilarating and startling music released in 2006, the group is audibly galvanized by the world's neverending tailspin and a sympathetic alignment with Def Jam. Batting around stray ideas and squeezing them into shape was clearly not part of the plan, and neither was getting on the radio. The songs flow into and out of one another to optimal effect, with an impossibly stern sense of peak-of-powers focus, as if the group and its collaborators instantly locked into place and simply knocked the thing out. With the exception of the elbow-throwing "Here I Come," nothing here is suitable for any kind of carefree activity. The extent of the album's caustic nature is tipped off early on, after glancing at the hangman on the cover and hearing Wadud Ahmad's penetrating voice run through lines like "Pilgrims, slaves, Indians, Mexicans/It looks real f*cked up for your next of kin." The point at which the album kicks into full gear, just a couple minutes later, arrives when tumbling bass drums and a Sly & the Family Stone sample ("This is a game/I'm your specimen") are suddenly overtaken by pure panic -- pulse-racing drums, anxious organ jabs, pent-up guitar snarls, and breathless rhyming from Black Thought and Malik B. "In the Music" exemplifies the deeply textured nature of the album's production work, with its rolling
oiling rhythm -- throbbing bass, clanging percussion, tight spirals of guitar -- made all the more claustrophobic by Porn's amorphous chorus and Black Thought's and Malik B.'s hunched-shoulder deliveries. Even "Baby," the closest thing to a breather in this patch of the album, arises from a sweltering jungle bog. After "Long Time," the ninth track, the levels of tension and volume decrease, yet the moods are no brighter, even if the surfaces leave a different impression. "Clock with No Hands" is introduced as a sweet slow jam with a light vocal hook from Mercedes Martinez, but it's as paranoid as anything else on the album. Jack Davey projects the chorus of the slower, Radiohead-sampling "Atonement" in a druggy haze while Black Thought speaks of "being faced with the weight of survival." The closer, an eight-minute suite titled "Can't Stop This," features a J Dilla production -- previewed on his Donuts, released the week he left this planet -- that opens and closes with testimonials to the musician's talent and humanity. Taken with or without this staggering finale, Game Theory is a heavy album, the Roots' sharpest work. It's destined to become one of Def Jam's proudest, if not most popular, moments.

Editorial Reviews

Billboard - Gail Mitchell
In a hip-hop world propelled by drum machines and other computerized instruments, there's still plenty of room for the real thing -- as well as for lyrics that say something beyond the usual bling and ass-shaking fare. The Roots have never compromised on that belief, and that creative fervor still fuels the group's work.

Product Details

Release Date:
Def Jam


Album Credits

Performance Credits

Roots   Primary Artist
Black Thought   Rap
?uestlove   Drums
Leonard Hubbard   Bass Guitar
Captain Kirk Douglas   Guitar
Kamal Gray   Keyboards
Frank "Knuckles" Walker   Percussion

Technical Credits

Bunny Sigler   Composer
Ron L. Hubbard   Composer
R. Bell   Composer
Brian Holland   Composer
S. Stewart   Composer
E. Sadler   Composer
Colin Greenwood   Composer
Jonny Greenwood   Composer
Ed O'Brien   Composer
Phil Selway   Composer
A.P. Thompson   Composer
Thom Yorke   Composer
K. Gray   Composer

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Game Theory 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The album is direct and dark, leaving the listener with a bittersweet experience. Each song tumbles into the next as if you are lead down a tunnel hoping to see the light at the end. Yet, the overall direction of the group remains well defined through sophisticated music and bold lyricism, creating an atmosphere that is strangely inviting given the ups and downs of every day living. Ultimately, after a series of intense musical reflections on society and personal involvement, an homage to the late hip-hop producer and lyricist, Jay Dee, closes the album with a steadfast vision that overpowers the darkest of all previous observations. If you appreciate music that challenges your daily way of thinking and opens your mind to personal reflection, give this one a sincere listen.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Another good cd from the Roots. I don't like it like 'Illadelph' or even 'Tipping Point,' but its just so solid, and every song has a meaning. Addresses a myriad of issues, from Katrina, to Jay Dee's passing, to politics, the state of the rap game, etc. Black Thought & Malik B. bring straight fire. It's nice to see Malik B. back. I love Thought because he raps about regular stuff, everyday goings on, not the fantasy and unrealistic escapism in nearly all of today's rap. I think its fair to say there wasn't another album this unique and underground to come out an a major label this year. Faves include "don't feel right," "here i come," "long time" (feat. peedi crack & bunny sigler) "clock w/ no hands" feat. mercedes of the jazzyfatnastees & "can't stop this," a tribute to Jay Dee. Kudos to Jay-Z, who let this be underground and didn't try to push it pop, (he candidly admits on "the black album" that rap like the roots' is essential but that he basically went pop so he'd have the money and power to help people in general, other artists, and of course himself) There are a couple singles I wish they'd release like "clock w/ no hands" and "can't stop this."