Don’t feel right

Not to throw all you okay players off your hater game, but I have to admit that I like the new Roots album. Actually, I don’t just like it—I like it like it.

Granted, it’s not an easy album to listen to. It’s dark and disturbing and dense and angry. Over the course of thirteen tracks, The Roots work through the loss of J Dilla, the atrocity that was Katrina, and the sorry state that America is in. It’s not club music (obviously). It’s not radio music. It’s not music for your car. It’s not even music for your crib. It’s an album crafted for meditation—an outing destined to be bumped in headphones as you roam the city streets and ride the trains. It’s a solitary venture.

And it’s a giant relief. Let’s be honest: the world is going to hell in a handbasket right now. Headlines bombard us daily with death and destruction. Iraq is more of a nightmare than the protesters predicted it would be. Israel and Lebanon are at each other’s throats. Africa is dying of AIDS. The threat of terrorism haunts the collective consciousness, and even when we suspect it’s a whole lot of hype, we get shook anyway. Meanwhile, the richest and most powerful nation on the planet would prefer to spend its ample funds spying on its citizens, as opposed to saving their lives when disasters like Katrina hit. The poor get poorer and the rich make vapid pop albums.

All of this is why Game Theory needs to be. The project proves utterly cathartic. The tracks are drenched in naked emotion: rage, grief, confusion. (I’ve never been one to buy into the theory that Black Thought is not charismatic enough for his band. Dude has never been boring to me. Still, his lyrics have never revealed much about his inner life. It’s just so fitting that he would open up for this particular project.)

To me, Game Theory is among the first in hip-hop to really capture what it feels like to be alive in this bizarre, sad moment in human history—what it feels like to talk, think, work, eat, sleep, and love in the midst of this post-millennial chaos. It’s no wonder ?uestlove almost had a breakdown making it.

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  • Bol

    Stephen Furst.

  • e

    Nice post you always have write though provoking articles but was this stolen from okayplayer j.k.

  • e

    Nice post you always write thought provoking articles but was this stolen from okayplayer j.k.
    Correcting grammatical errors

  • e

    How about a post responding to the title of Bol’s post about you Tara?

  • Tej

    Hey T,

    I cannot stop listening to the new Roots. Listening to it as I type this.

    My humble opinion, but it’s insanely good, a statement on the level of Things Fall Apart.

  • The Chancellor

    i love the roots but they have way better albums than Game theory. two words….Illadelph Halflife.

  • Young A. Simmons

    You taking notes Byron? At least someone recognizes Game Theory rather than mocking each track with a snide faggit ass remark.

    Good post now just put up those fabled naked pics and you’ll be golden…

  • Jerz!

    I feel you on this one. Sometimes you gotta just step back from all the blogs, disputes between criticisms and heavy praise, complaining, region controversy, first week #’s, etc…put some headphones on and just bump the shit if it speaks to you.

  • bol lost

    Bol lost! Shawty sniped at him, kept it moving while hes’ claiming she obsessed wit him. Bo “L”

  • thoreauly77

    alllllllright miss henley! i totally knew i should have downloaded game theory for free, now i can do it with a clear conscience. excellent post though and particularly because it is a pseudo follow up to/thread from an unnamed thread that someone might have previously used for inspiration for their piece at either way, who gives a fuck when you write better than any of those leptons?

  • bol lost

    we wanted a tara bol beef! We needed it. Unfortunately shawtys too classy for that. Dang. i STILL THINK bOL PROBABLY a non pussy getting, small dick havin dude. He look gay in that pic.

  • alleyeCNtower

    very well expressed analysis of the importance of ‘Game Theory’. it’s easily one of the best LP’s in this potentially-worst-ever year of hip hop, but it would still be amazing if everyone else was rapping about how insanely hellish the world is, instead of pretending Manuel Noreaga owes them favors in their raps.

    Black Thought also has never been boring to me, but he also could take a page from the Mos Def Handbook of Hip Hop Happiness, and actually smile once in a while, or show some more emotion besides jazz player melancholy, LOL. ?uestlove really revealed something major in the XXL article, about Tariq’s parents… I wonder how Black Thought felt about that… anyways, the album is wonderful, but ‘Living In A New World’ is criminally short.

    “yo, they got high powered lenses on the cameras outside/ it ain’t nowhere to run and ain’t hardly nowhere to hide/ they hear you when you’re whispering so try to keep quiet/ you don’t even realize you’re a twinkle in the all-seeing eye…”

    real talk.
    even though Jay-Z ain’t promoting them very good at all (not even one full page ad in XXl or the Source), I must say: thank God for the Roots in 2006.


    yo tara good review. where yo response to bol at?? or are ya takin tha weezy f baby route? anyways heads up okayplayers, ya got a lova now.

  • Tego

    It is good. Peedi Peedi’s verse is crazy.

  • DJ Lucky Luke

    Where’d Marvin Gaye go?

  • exo

    Tariq is a beast on a leash. And, while we’re divulging unpopular opinions, I still bump Phrenology and The Tipping Point, which are my favorite two Roots albums by far.

  • Rey

    Wow.. It’s nice to read a review from someone who knows it’s still okay to actually like something from time to time.

    I haven’t heard this whole album yet but I liked what I did hear.

  • http://none B-Ease

    Game Theory just may be the hip hop album of the year so far (Fishscale and Donuts are the other contenders).Perfect sequencing that allows a mood and tone to be established, which is something rap artists tend to not do AT ALL anymore (Remember ATliens,The Score,Cuban Linx).I never found Thought boring either but at the same time I think he has come better lyrically in the past (Halflife and Fall Apart) even if he is finally opening up (no Lance).

  • http://none B-Ease

    Game Theory just may be the hip hop album of the year so far (Fishscale and Donuts are the other contenders).Perfect sequencing that allows a mood and tone to be established, which is something rap artists tend to not do AT ALL anymore (Remember ATliens,The Score,Cuban Linx).I never found Thought boring either but at the same time I think he has come better lyrically in the past (Halflife and Fall Apart) even if he is finally opening up (no Lance).Which is the only reason why it hasnt staked tha #1 spot.Peedi has arguable the dopest verse of the year tho…yea thats right, i said it.

  • Sir Jantz (Thomas Crown)

    THe world we are living in is headed to destruction. I think Game Theory is an album that captivates the true essence of hip-hop. THe roots are spectacular. There needs to be more music about healing than killing. I like Game and I Like 50, but how many times do I have to hear another cat talking about how he gonna kill the other. This shit ain’t real, its entertainment!! It’s no different from the WWE. THe times we are living in are rougher than what my parents went through because its all mind control. Like TI said, “YOu kill the head, the body will follow.” That’s a true statement. Once society gets inside our minds, its over. Knowledge is the key to life and without it we all could perish. Jay-Z is one of the most influential people at Def Jam, right? Then, as a leader, he needs to lead. Jigga is one of my role modles. I support him in all of his endeavors, but If you got a roster of some of the most gifted minds around, how is it that hard for them to go platinum. If Nas doesn’t go platinum then I know something!! If the Roots don’t go platinum I know something!! I’m just ready to hear some real shit and I think we as a people at least deserve that!!!

  • Mikey Ess AKA SukedowN

    I have to admit, your critique makes me want to go back and listen to the album more closely a second time.

    ^^^Finally some love for The Tipping Point (AKA the most listenable Roots album)

  • marlon

    deepest album yet, and best album since do you want more. its good to see someone who knows hip hop reviewing game theory, anyone who doesn’t appreciate this album is in the dark.

  • Freddy Freeloader

    Tipping Point was okay, not my favorite Roots-album. I never understood the hating on Phrenology though, that’s a banger.
    BTW, Game Theory rocks, front to back.

  • alleyeCNtower

    Bol’s bullshit is not even worth responding to. It’s not even worth remembering, actually.

    You’re bigger, better, and smarter than that, Tara. Keep it moving…

    Motherfuckers done lost they minds in this rap shit. Sometimes, I ain’t afraid to admit, my own Black people embarrass the fuck out of me with their proud and reckless ignorance.

    I can’t believe that dude is getting paid to write for XXL… when I have every issue and write so well! :)



    one love, Tara

  • Bol Lost

    I posted some comments trashing Bol earlier and they’ve disapeared. I wonder if dude actually sits and peeps the internet all day for a living. That may explain why dude uses words like “teh ghey” coz he thinks it resonates with “e-thugz”. Bit like “no-homo” etc. Probably. Shame man. And there I was trashing this dude thinking hes’ a messed up dude. Hes actually a fag who probably wouldnt last a day in the cut-throat real world. Unless he works with kids or in a female environment preying on women who by nature tend to be less belligerent and assertive. Why else did he pick a beef with tara for a subliminal (and very relevant) blog she made observations about bloggers? Coward ass faggot dirrty looking nigga!

  • Mr.Me

    Tara your tryin to win over those okplayers wit this, but their still gonna shit on you cuz their nerdy an loyal like that. Why dont you try reviewin a album that isnt Roots or Outkast related? Niggas dont always wanna here that backpack rap an yall play them niggas out worst than radio does. Aint nobody bumpin Game Theory in their whip. Be foreal, thats coffe house music.


  • khal

    i’m understanding what you’re saying, but i still don’t feel this album. i think they could have balanced between speaking volumes in their lyrics and making listenable music. i can hardly get into some of the shit on there, aside from the last track and the one with the cat on the chorus. don’t feel right bores me, that piano just drones on… i just can’t get into it sonically to medidate to the tracks.

  • H-man

    The Rootz album iz da realist…Go out and cop it…

  • tHe tRaNsIeNt

    u needta peep sum z-ro, tara

    ask noz..he’ll hook you up

  • EHT

    Selling 1 million albums doesn’t make you or an album good! Good music is good music no matter the sells. Yes albums need to be sold for jobs to be kept (and there is enough garbage being sold today). We are all looking for things to move of the shelves fast in the first week or month, but how about wanting classic records. This album will still sell in years to come. While the albums that did big first week numbers won’t be heard about in years (more likely days) to come.

  • pop a poppa

    why is it that evre1 that responds to Tara’s posts talks like Stuart Smalley from Saturday Night Live??? (you’re good enough, smart enough, and people like you!!!)

    FROM MTV NEWS link:
    The altered copies also include a Paris Hilton remix CD credited to “DM,” which Danger Mouse’s management confirmed is him. “It’s hard to improve on perfection, but we had to try,” the Gnarls Barkley mastermind said in a statement. Danger Mouse and Banksy are believed to have met while shopping for costumes in SoHo, New York.

    maybe the reason hip-hop ain’t sellin’ is cuz we don’t got the costume shit. its worked for Gnarls Barkley so far. if Rick Ross walked down the street in a Papa Smurf outfit don’t you think he’d sell more? now thaz gangsta!

  • Belize

    Question is…is it better than the Mef cd?

  • Dr. 19464

    game theory reminds me of Nas’s God’s Son—-somber, reflective. dope, but definitely not a headnodder.

  • I need a drink

    great post, couldn’t agree more.

  • Sushi K

    Yep, feel it too. World hasn’t been right since the FUHRER stole the election 6 years ago.

    It’s all wrong: 9-11, Katrina, Global Warming, and worst of all ODB is DEAD! WTF? That’s not how it was supposed to happen. I was really looking forward to hearing his shit as a senior citizen. I wanted to see him roll up in a limo to collect his Social Security check.

    We’ve been stuck in an alternate time line for six years…

  • thoreauly77

    “bol lost”- its pretty awesome how you are attempting to pose the feminist stance for miss henley, yet by doing so you exhibit your homophobia (aka, you would love nothing more than to put a penis in your mouth, or *goodness!*, maybe even your anus!). if anything, this speaks volumes on how enlightened you are. also, it is almost sure-fire that tara is now in love with you.

  • DJ Mydas

    i’m with Exo…The Roots get better evry album…i need to give it some time to breathe so that i know it’s the best so far, but it may be my new favorite Roots album (the current is “The Tipping Point”)…and it IS car music…i drive around a lot listening to it…getting lost in my thoughts…

  • Spark

    Tara ur nice

  • KR

    Smh @ Obie Trice being overlooked as one of the year’s best…if not THE BEST…

    …and smh @ yall bein on Bol’s dick like yall are…

  • Face Phoenix

    Tara, I’ll Give it to you (in more than one way hint,hint) your take on the new Roots album is quite accurate. I tried tearing the album apart for tracks to rip to my Mp3 player and find myself like I have 2 times before: A Roots album is not about bumping singles it’s a complete work like a mini series. You can’t really absorb it until you listen to it all in one continual sitting. Likewise with every listening. I like the the last two albums just as much and feel the same about. It reminds me of some jazz albums for this reason. It just sounds better when you listen to it as a whole rather than how most albums you are clearly looking for the stand out singles and ignoring the fluff that is the rest of album. Big Up, Tara.

  • Fernando

    Damn……maybe I should go download this shit. I was severly dissappointed with their last effort, and after Bol’s scathing review (still trying to figure out why I even let his reviews shape my opinion) I was scared to khop(download) it. Thanks depressed yamp.

  • WORLD33



  • allnice

    Tara, as usual, you are second only to Bol with the illy posts. The Roots have always been the on the fringe, almost political hip hop band. But, unfortunately, Technique has made two vastly superior albums. A dark album can still sound good (Hell on Earth). I have to take a direct listen again to Game Theory and I give them props for letting loose on the album. But, those Roots cats could have made a better album than Game Theory.

  • Tom

    hey tara, thanks for writing this. game theory is important. the world is gettin darker and songs like “false media” and “its all in the music” speak to me about just how fucked up things are.

  • Profit

    I couldn’t agree with you more.

  • UnFaded Disciple

    Best album out right now. Lupe Fiasco’s “Food & Liquor” should be a classic.

  • Cuban Link

    I think you deserve around of applause.This CD is not given the credit it deserves.This is my favorite album since Illmatic.Every track is sick, this is the kinda CD you can listen to 20 years from now and vividly remember the past.

  • T.R.A.E.

    Ayo I agree wit cha mama u capture every essence in dis article dat Game Theory portrays in it’s album I think it was one of the best albums in 06 n it will defintely go in my top ten to be honest i’ve never listened to The Roots before in my life I picked they album up when they was in XXL’S top ten most anticipated list and i’m glad i did