First of all, word on the mean streets of the Internets is that if Game Theory doesn’t go at least gold, the Roots are going to be dropped from Def Jam like a bad habit.
I thought they might have had one of the deals like Sonic Youth has with Geffen where all they have to do is record some shit every year or so, but apparently they don’t. I can’t give the album a full-on recommendation myself, but I will say that there are certainly worse rap albums you could buy this year and only a few that are better, for what it’s worth.
I had my London (London) Bureau Chief review this for my own site, and I originally covered it here as part of my first evar tax write-off roundup, but I figured it would be cool to take a more in-depth look at the album today, on its release date.
My bad if they pulled a TV on the Radio and switched up the tracklisting. I’m still rocking my “special press advance” copy from several weeks ago.
DIllatastic Vol Won(derful). Fades in from silence with some, um, music. Like most intros of this type, it doesn’t serve much of a purpose other than making the album that much more pretentious. Fortunately, it’s mercifully brief.
False Media. Not unlike the Wu-Tang Clan’s god-awful “Chrome Wheels,” from Iron Flag, a homeless guy was brought in to do the chorus on this. What is he saying, anyway? America is lost somewhere inside of Littleton? ‘the fuck is that supposed to mean? That said, I suppose some rap group needed to address the childhood ritalin epidemic(?).
Game Theory. Doesn’t sound especially different than “Don’t Feel Right” or several other songs on the past couple of albums, but I like the fact that it incorporates some sort of vocal sample during the chorus, which saves them from having to come up with anything on their own. Also, crackhead Malik B makes his triumphant return to rappin’ here.
Don’t Feel Right. The ill-fated first single. Whatever happened to trying to rewrite “You Got Me” for the umpteenth time? For all we know, the shit might have worked again this time. ?uestlove, here’s an idea for the next album you can have (for a small fee): an interracial “You Get Me” with Christina Aguilera. Tell me that shit wouldn’t sell.
In the Music. Works the same Knight Rider vibe Scott “Deadbear” Storch came up with for the last album’s ill-fated first single. It’s the chorus that really kills it though. Did they run out of money for Sly Stone samples? Also, I like how Malik B’s verse has hardly anything to do with Black Thought’s.
Take It There. Black Thought takes it there. Apparently, things are really shitty in the ghetto. The homeless guy from the first song drops another one of his poems. Pretty much an all around shit sandwich.
Baby. A song where the chorus just goes baby, baby, baby, baby. Really? Black Thought’s verses call to mind his ones from “The Seed 2.0,” which makes me wonder what Cody Chestnusts is up to these days. Nullus. Here’s a thought: Maybe he is the homeless guy that’s doing all these damn poems.
Here I Come. Like a modern day “Clones,” but way more Limp Bizkit-y. At least it kinda rocks though, and you should hear it live. Lifelong scarves and water man Dice Raw drops a verse.
Long Time. The one with Peedi Peedi. He kinda murders Black Thought on his own shit. He’s got charisma like that.
Livin’ in a New World. The kind of song you stick dead in the middle of the second half and hope no one notices. Again, I could use a Sly Stone sample or even just nothing on the chorus here.
Clock with No Hands. A sort of shitty, neo-soul “Seasons in the Sun.” The chorus incorporates the one lightskinted fellows sing-songy raps from the Pharcyde’s “Running Away,” which never sat quite right with me in the first place, and may very well have been the straw that ultimately led Fatlip to get a blow job from another guy. No SexyBack.
Atonement. Samples Radiohead’s “You and Whose Army?” But it’s way too slow for my liking. J Dilla, if he wasn’t dead as doornails, could probably pull something like this off pretty well.
Can’t Stop This. The part of this that’s an actual rap song is really well done. I could do without the rest of it, but I’m an asshole like that.
And that’s the thing with this album: You can’t help but think that an album of Black Thought rappin’ over nothing but beats from Dilla’s ‘oh shit I’m about to die’ hodgepodge Donuts would be far superior to what the Roots come up with here. The best tracks on this aren’t especially better than anything on the last couple of albums; they’re just “darker.” And a good half of this is just kinda shitty.