Finally. The Roots are back. On their first studio release since Tipping Point, they make a lot of changes but manage to remain the same (if that makes any sense). Gone are most of the upbeat, fun joints that get you amped. They're replaced by dark, almost cinematic production courtesy of The Roots, J Dilla, and Kamal (on the keys). Another change is the lyrical content. Black Thought seems to be on more of a conscious tip instead of the normal smashing of emcees and flexing of lyrical muscles. Don't get me wrong, he still rips, but he's sprinkling more message than usual this time around. Also, I'm one of the few people that sorely missed Malik B., so I bugged out when I heard him step in on the outstanding title track, "Game Theory". He still rhymes with the same presence and skill that he showed before his departure (be sure to check his solo LP too....it's dope) and he shows up on two more great tracks -- "In The Music" and the bangin' "Here I Come" feat. Dice Raw. Not only is M-Illitant back, but Dice Raw seems to have regained his passion and Peedi Peedi (rumored to be joining the group) aka Peedi Crack of State Property steps up his game and drops a dope verse on the bangin' "Long Time". I always knew Peedi could spit, I was just waiting for him to actually say something and he does it on this album. Guests include those already mentioned along with Maimouna Youssef, Wadud Ahmad, Porn, Bunny Sigler, John John, Mercedes Martinez, and Jack Davey and they all shine. The late Jay Dee aka J Dilla makes his posthumous impact on the brief Dillatastic Vol Won(derful) which he "oversees" and the excellent "Can't Stop This" (which the beat for this song can also be found on his Donuts LP).
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)