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THE ROOTS:: Game Theory (Album Review)

There was some understandable concern when the Roots signed to Def Jam that label honcho Jay-Z and his Carter Administration might try to bling up Philly’s finest with a radical image makeover. Although they appear in business suits on the back of the Game Theory disc, the hand-drawn monochromatic hangman image on the front suggests that it’s hardcore truth-telling hiphop business as usual, and heavy-hitting tracks like False Media, Don’t Feel Right and Livin’ In A New World confirm it. If anything, the grooves have gotten tougher and funkier on Game Theory, but Jay-Z clearly intends to move some units, so Black Thought’s tirades about society’s ills now come with shout-along choruses and women guest vocalists sing the hooks. It won’t help the Roots suddenly sell crazy 50 Cent numbers, but Game Theory should definitely top the performance of The Tipping Point and Phrenology.