The Roots Beef Up Their ‘Game’
Producer J. Dilla (nee James Yancey) died in February from complications of lupus. Of the hundreds of unreleased songs the Dilla left behind, the Roots snagged one and re-worked it into a nine-minute tribute entitled 'Can't Stop This.' Drummer Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson says, "With the permission of his mother, I sort of turned that song into a five-part eulogy on wax, where people he's worked with in the past reflect on his life."
"The music always came first," says Thompson. "During his last three weeks, he managed to finish his last three records. And it wasn't like, 'Oh, that's good for a guy on his last breath.' This is some of the most challenging work that he ever produced."
The album's lead single, 'Don't Feel Right,' and the political 'New World' should also allay the fears of Roots loyalists who thought signing with Def Jam might taint the group's sound. "The prime reason we got signed is the massive amount of credibility and respect that we've somehow managed to maintain for the last 14 years," Thompson says. "[Jay-Z] was very insistent on us doing the album that we wanted to do.
"We can't think, like, 'Man, we're gonna cash in. We rollin' with Jigga.' It's not that easy."
'Game Theory' hits stores August 29.