The Roots's "Game Theory" Marked A New Era

This year marks the 17th anniversary of The Roots' seventh studio album, Game Theory. Released on August 29, 2006, via Def Jam Recordings, the album marked their first release on the historic label. The band had recently left Geffen Records, the imprint where they released their previous album, 2004's The Tipping Point. Known for their live instrumentation, Game Theory was primarily recorded on GarageBand, which had launched somewhat recently. The album debuted at No. 9 on the Billboard 200, peaking at No. 4 on the Top Rap Albums chart. It also received two nominations at the 2007 Grammy Awards for Best Rap Album, along with Best Rap Performance by a Duo/Group for "Don't Feel Right." Today, we look back at The Roots' Game Theory for its 17th anniversary. 

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Game Theory: A New Era

Game Theory marked a new era for The Roots not only because they had just signed with a new label, but it signified a new sound that they had not yet tapped into. The album is not as jazzy, funky, or uplifting as some of their earlier work. During a promotional run, Questlove described it as their "darkest album yet," fueled by current events and tragic losses. The album's lead single, "Don't Feel Right" spoke to the band's feelings on socio-political matters around the world. The song, Black Thought addressed various social issues troubling the state of the world. "False Media" acted as a response to the War in Iraq while "Livin' in a New World" confronted topics of government surveillance and the paranoia that comes with it. 

The album's serious subject matter was also a result of the passing of J Dilla. Game Theory's closing track, "Can't Stop This" honors the legendary rapper, producer, and fellow Soulquarians member. On the song, Black Thought raps over "Time: Donut of the Heart" from J Dilla's Donuts, which he released earlier that year before his passing. Game Theory set the tone for The Roots' future albums, which continued to cover serious subjects in their lyrics with somber and melancholic instrumentation.

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The Roots Carved Their Own Lane

Hip-hop was in an interesting place in 2006. Chamillionaire and Nelly topped the charts while Nas declared "Hip Hop Is Dead" on his album of the same name. Game Theory stuck out amongst other hip-hop releases that year, which was evident in the Grammy categories it was nominated for. "Don't Feel Right" was the only song in the Best Rap Performance By a Duo/Group category that did not come from a Southern artist or crack the Billboard Hot 100. Unlike other artists nominated it the same category, The Roots didn't create music that appealed to radio or mainstream audiences.

Still, Game Theory was one of the most critically acclaimed albums of 2006 and remains one of The Roots' highest-rated works. The album instantly stood out as a serious commentary on the state of the world. It sounded like no other rap release that year. While Game Theory marked a new era for the band, it also solidified their ability to craft quality works and their unique place in hip-hop.

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The post The Roots's "Game Theory" Marked A New Era appeared first on HotNewHipHop.


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