Best of 2006: #5 The Roots – Game Theory


Lots of news today… first off, this years Coachella lineup was just announced. I’m was already planning to be there and this years schedule is one of the best, so keep reading for more updates.

WordPress has outdone itself as a blog host. I can now embed a flash player right into the page so it’s now even easier to preview the tracks in our posts. Nialler9 has been doing it for a while now and I was always a fan of it… now The Alternakids have the same capabilities. This post is the trial run of the feature for us, so let us know if there are any bugs.


Now for more hip-hop with the next album in our countdown Game Theory by the Roots:

Full size roots
When hip-hop was started in NYC it was largely derived from the Jamaican soundclash culture (much props to Kool Herc), so from the beginning the music was centered around sampling and the reconstruction of pre-recorded material. For that reason it was always somewhat of a kitschy gimmick for hip-hop acts to perform with live bands. Enter the Roots who not only made it viable for other hip-hop acts to have live back-up bands, but they standout as one of the most technically proficient live acts of any genre out there period.

Keep in mind that the Roots crew are the ones who introduced us to Scott Storch, Bienie Siegal, Eve, OK Player, and quite possibly the whole neo-soul movement. It took me hearing Black Thought talk about how much J-Dilla influenced them that made me realise how influential he actually was. I along with most people credited them with forging the whole neo-soul sound, but looking back I can see how it evolved over the years (btw… this album features a few of those “donut crumbs” I was talking about before).

I lucked out and got to see them perform at an Amoeba records in-store not too long after Game Theory was released. Quite fittingly later on that same day I saw James Brown at the Hollywood Bowl. I say that because in my humble opinion watching Questlove call out cues on the fly from behind his kit is the closest you’ll ever come to witnessing how James used to do it in his heyday… but I’m open to hearing other people’s take on that.

Now let’s talk about this album. A lot of people were worried about how the move to Def Jam would effect the bands sound, but they shushed pretty much all of the naysayers by giving us their best effort since Things Fall Apart.

Check out this medley of album tracks:

Here’s that last track in full:

The Roots – It Don’t Feel Right



One thing The Roots have always excelled at on their albums was sequencing. Each song flows into the next so naturally sometimes you’re halfway into the next track before you realize there’s been a segue-way. Again this is an element that they recreate very well in their live performances keeping the jams coming at you from the moment they hit the stage until the curtain call with very few pauses in the action.

I really wish I could get my hands on a raw version of the masters for this song so I could isolate the tracks and show you everything that’s really going on here, but I guarantee if you hear them play this live you’ll listen to it in a whole new way from then on.

The Roots – Game Theory




This track is what reminded me of why I love Black thought as a lyricist. Everybody talks about how hip-hop is supposed to be the voice of a subculture and I “Clock with no Hands” was the single most relate-able song to me personally that was released this year. Check the second verse:

Yo, I’m like Malcom out the window with the weapon out
Searching for somehow to find a minute or the second now
Precious time is money that I ain’t got to mess about
Need it from the horse’s mouth or from my eye with less account
Lessons with my back to the wall, scoping my session out
Stay a little edgy at times when I ain’t stressing bout
Haters don’t know shit about me, they the ones that talk shit
Those that love me send it out, so I ain’t got to force quit
Cause I’m doing better now, don’t mean I never lost shit
I was married to a state of mind and I divorced it, man
I’m from where brothers moving product from the porches
People locking their doors, clutching to their crosses
The block hot by the law, there ain’t too many choices
So what I do is for y’all, there ain’t too many voices left
I watch my back, and watch my step
And I might forgive, but I will not forget come on

The Roots – Clock With No Hands




I mean how can you go wrong with an album that has a song based around a Radiohead sample? (see Atonement… Actually if you didn’t hear the remix “Nothing in it’s Right Place” you should try to hunt that down right now as well. If you ask nicely I might put it up in a future post) Definitely a worthy comeback, be sure to pick this album up if you get the chance, or better yet catch them out on tour and get the full experience.

In other news, Denny Doherty of The Mama’s and the Papa’s passed away yesterday, so as a bonus today I give you a couple of tracks penned by him and John Phillips for the group.

Denny Doherty

The Mamas and the Papas – Got a Feelin’



The Mamas and the Papas – I Saw Her Again


2 Responses to “Best of 2006: #5 The Roots – Game Theory”

  1. matt Says:

    Hey man, excellent write-up! definitely one of the best albums of the year.


  2. clubbing in atlanta Says:

    I’m impressed at how straight forward you make this topic look via your articles, although I must say I still don’t quite understand it.
    It seems too complicated and extremely exhaustive for me.
    I am eager for your subsequent publishings, I will try to get the gist of it.

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