|On album number eight, the Roots continue to pursue their more nihilistic tendencies in the same vein as 2006's exceptional GAME THEORY. With a title inspired by W.T. Vollman's voluminous history of violence, RISING DOWN sees Black Thought (alongside Malik B, Dice Raw and a thick list of formidable guest MCs and vocalists, including Mos Def, Styles P, Talib Kweli, Common, Peedi Peedi, Saigon, Truck North, and Mercedes Martinez, among others) examining violence, oppression, and the pollution of the American Dream in a variety of places and circumstances. The grim subject matter goes hand-in-hand with a noticeably darker production approach. Largely absent are the lighter, electric piano-driven tracks (a longtime Roots trademark). they've given way to murky synthesizers and noisy, distortion-filled instrumentation. The album intro (a band conference call that quickly devolves into an impassioned shouting match) bluntly lets listeners know what they're in for. Mounting frustration, apprehension, outrage, and anger pervade virtually every track, making RISING DOWN anything but a feel-good record. What it is instead is one of the most compelling and urgent hip-hop albums in years. Or, as Dice Raw puts it on "Get Busy," "Kinda like W.E.B. Dubois meets Heavy D and the Boyz."