Undisputedly the premier live hip-hop band in the world, much of the Roots' well-deserved reputation has been earned on stages around the globeâ€”but in the studio they have been less consistent. On the heels of their seventh album, Phrenology (2002)â€”which included the breakout crossover hit duet with Cody ChestnuTT â€œThe Seed (2.0)â€â€”their last album, The Tipping Point, failed to excite fans or garner the critical acclaim of earlier works. Their move this year from Geffen/Universal to DefJam/Island seemed to hold promise for a rebirth.
The result, their new release and impressive ninth studio album, Game Theory, is dark and soulful, but also an understated album that's easy to miss. Thereâ€™s nothing flashy. No obvious hit singles or party songs. But below the surface is a maturity of depth, and a cohesive beautifully brooding vibe that reveals more with each listen. And without being didactic, it expresses an exasperation with the current political moment. A pared down, bluesy, rock lament with hip-hop trappings, Game Theory is also presented as a eulogy for the recently deceased Amazon.
by DJ Scribe