Game Theory Import
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Japanese pressing includes one bonus track, 'Bread & Butter'. Def Jam. 2006.
Despite their signing to Def Jam, on Game Theory the Roots head in a direction opposite from all the trendy, commercial formulas that the label has pioneered. This is as intensely a "Roots album" as anything they've put out, the rightful sequel to their brilliant, creative Phrenology (unlike their last album, the off-balance Tipping Point. Game Theory is a dark and brooding affair, not just in Black Thought's foreboding lyricism but also in its musical textures. There's a layer of melancholia running beneath nearly every song, whether in the heavy thump of "In the Music" or the frenetic verve of "Here I Come." Track-for-track, this isn't The Roots' most scintillating collection of songs, but listened to from end-to-end, it's actually a remarkable achievement in album-making. Every song builds into the next one, and those willing to experience Game Theory as a 47-minute suite of 13 songs will be richly rewarded by how precisely the whole puzzle fits together. --Oliver Wang --This text refers to an alternate Audio CD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
One of the most noticeable changes listening to "Game Theory" after 2004's "The Tipping Point" is the band's return to a more collaborative sound. The Roots are at their best when they play as a rap/hip hop BAND rather than relying on the vocals of Black Thought. Thought has always been able to rap with the best, but the lyric-centric songs on "The Tipping Point" suffered from his lack of emotional range and dramatic inflection. On "Game Theory", fans will once again find that larger diversity of the band, creating integral parts of the music using broad influences, instrumentation, and guest singers.
The tracks on "Game Theory" range across the spectrum from down and dirty beats that make you jump to smooth grooves that slide like silk into your ear. The media critical second track "False Media" is a short personal critique tune that features an intense chorus of seriousness from Wadud Ahmad. The album then jumps into high gear with the title third track featuring Black Thought belting out in-your-face lyrics to a fantastic beat from ?uestlove on drums and sharp keyboards from Kamal.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
As far as flaws, I can't think of any. The newer, darker sound works well for them, so no beef there. If I had to find a beef, it would be the fact that The Roots didn't include a hidden track (which I think is a first for them....but don't quote me). Maybe it's one of the changes that comes with rolling with the Carter Administration/Def Jam. Who knows. My complaint is a very minor one though.
Game Theory Is the most complete, well rounded release from the Roots since Things Fall Apart. Not only did BT rip every track while Malik B. returned to do three tracks, but the production bangs nonstop. The Roots' Def Jam debut is a home run. They finally have the handcuffs removed and are allowed to release their vision upon the masses -- and they've never sounded better. I recommend adding this to your record collection asap. Satisfaction is definitely guaranteed.
Standout Tracks: Clock With No Hands feat. Mercedes Martinez of The Jazzyfatnastees, Long Time feat. Peedi Peedi & Bunny Sigler, In The Music feat. Malik B. & Porn, Game Theory feat. Malik B., Don't Feel Right feat. Maimouna Youssef, Here I Come feat. Dice Raw & Malik B., False Media, and Can't Stop This (My Favorite)
Game Theory is at its best when it's at its most confrontational and intense, which makes it somewhat of a letdown when the album settles into a series of more laid-back, R&B oriented tracks in its final third. That said, the seven tracks after the intro pack about as much brilliance into a twenty-minute stretch as you're going to find, as they're everything most mainstream hip-hop isn't--intricate, clever, and brutally honest. Be it the frenetic time signatures and ultra-anthemic chorus of the hard-charging Here I Come, the clanging, hard-edged beats of the ominous In the Music, or the fast-paced, headbanging fury of the title track (my pick for song of the year), the best moments of Game Theory are among the most memorable of 2006 in any genre. Much of Game Theory is the sound of people who have faced the kind of adversity that's brought down numerous others, and are still here to talk about it. It's just too bad that in a musical climate where suburban children of privilege can be taken seriously for whining about their feelings, there aren't more people willing to listen.
The production on this album is definately a highlight. The Roots produce most of the album themselves, but James Poyser, Khari Mateen, Tahir Jamal, Richard Nichols, Owen Biddle, Kevin Hansen, J. Dilla and others help out. J. Dilla (RIP) produced the 28 second intro, as well as the final track, 'Can't Stop This', which is a tribute to Dilla that uses the beat 'Time: The Donut Of The Heart' from Dilla's incredible instrumental album 'Donuts'. The rest of the album has a large production range from extremely chill ('Atonement'), to as hype as a Roots song gets ('Here I Come'), but most of them fall comfortably in the middle. As I stated earlier, this album has the darkest production of any Roots album. This goes perfectly with the lyrical content of the album, as well as provides a great tone throughout the album.
While the production on Game Theory is top notch, even for Roots standards, Black Thought is really the shining point of this album. Game Theory is Black Thought's best album lyrically yet. The social & political consciousness of the album, and how it's presented is extremely impactful and makes for an interesting, and very hard hitting album. The album also has some noteworthy guest apperances, with easily the most noteworthy being the return of Malik B. Malik is only featured on 3 tracks, but he drops dope verses on all 3 tracks, which are 3 of the best tracks of the album. I really hope that Malik, who was dismissed from the group as a result of drug problems, will play a more prominant role on the next Roots album, because he has been such a great compliment to Black Thought in the past.
Game Theory is The Roots' best album since 1999 ('Things Fall Apart'; which I also consider a classic), and is probably the best album of 2006 (only rivaled by J. Dilla's 'Donuts'). This album is definately a sign of good things to come for The Roots on Def Jam, and should be the beginning of a great relationship.
Top 5 Songs (In Order):
1. Can't Stop This - J. Dilla tribute song over 'Time: The Donut Of The Heart' from Dilla's 'Donuts'. Easily one of the best songs of 2006 so far. R.I.P.
2. Game Theory (Featuring Malik B) - Malik B returns with a nice verse on just an overall GREAT track.
3. Here I Come (Featuring Malik B & Dice Raw) - The 3 best MCs of the 90s Roots crew reunite for a great track over one of the best beats on the album.
4. Don't Feel Right (Featuring Maimouna Youssef) - Another overall dope track.
5. In The Music (Featuring Malik B & Porn) - Some great production, as well as the 3rd dope verse on the album from Malik B.
Clock With No Hands (Featuring Mercedes Martinez) - My least favorite beat on the album, and although it's a good song, it's kind of boring.
Lyrics/Substance/Subject Matter - 10/10
Flow/Delivery - 9.5/10
Production - 9.5/10
Overall Feel - 10/10
Guest Apperances - Malik B, Maimouna Youssef, Porn, Wadud Ahmad, John-John, Dice Raw, Peedi Peedi, Bunny Sigler, Mercedes Martinez & Jack Davey - 8/10 - Guests contribute some great hooks and nice compliment verses.
Overall Rating - 10/10 - Another classic from The Legendary Roots Crew. If you have any interest in hip hop (and I dont mean Young Joc), this is a must have.