Yeah, yeah, Sonics, whatever. There's plenty of good players here y'all ain't up on. Report to Nectar Saturday, August 12, for Soul Gorilla's cracking Main Squeeze night—this week hosting the b-day bash of Seattle's own young spitfire Livio. Livio's been doing it for some time now, dropping his In My Life Vol.1 (FunkDaddy Records) in 2002, which featured guest shots from such big names as Noreaga and D12. Livio's grind has brought him a gang of hate in the town—a sure sign that he's doing things right. I recently got treated to like 500 bars from dude, and the kid is nice like Pete, real talk. His newest album, Cruel Intentions, as well as his latest mix Liv & Proof, a full-length mix featuring collaborations with his Detroit patna Proof (RIP), are available at www.younglivio.com.

I have endured some flack for being such a determined hater of the Game... a title I'm proud of. So, although in the year-plus since his debut, he's managed to become a half-decent rapper (I can't front), I still couldn't help cackling an evil laugh when I heard that he's been dropped from Dr. Dre's Aftermath Records. Yes, "the heir to the Aftermath dynasty" (actual lyrics from his new street single "One Blood") will now be dropping his sophomore LP The Doctor's Advocate on Geffen, which isn't exactly renowned for working rap records. It leads one to wonder: Damn, how much pull does 50 Cent have over at Interscope? It's almost like the pro-wrestling-like rap world is in fact a microcosm of the corporate world. Now that's encouraging.

Former Geffen inmates the Roots are one of the few crews whose albums I've consistently bought (i.e., purchased legally) over the years without fail. The only exception was their last album, The Tipping Point. From the second I heard that Scott Storch–produced single "Don't Say Nuthin" (I hate Storch as it is; don't get me started), I knew they were onto some other shit—and not in a good way. Luckily, their seventh studio album, Game Theory, finds the Legendary back on their game, with ?uestlove actually delivering on his promise to make an album about as dark and musically ambitious as they're capable of—somewhere between Illadelph Halflife and Phrenology. The music emphasizes rawness over structure (peep the cosmic-sloppy setup to the title track), but they manage to keep in check their tendency toward self-indulgence and artsy pretension. Black Thought—who doesn't even pop up until, like, five minutes in, but goes hard as hell from there on—takes a break from his usual superbad MC steez to deliver some potent, pointed commentary. What's more, he's joined on three tracks by the Roots' estranged "Ill Militant," Malik B., plus their 5th Dynasty affiliate Dice Raw, and one of my favorite guilty-pleasure MCs, Peedi Crakk. Really, between this joint and Ghost's Fishscale, I am definitely enjoying Def Jam's newfound adventurousness. Bravo, President Carter! I guess Def Jam can finally afford to put out some good music again while Young Jeezy, Rihanna, and Rick Ross pay the rent. Salute!

hiphop@thestranger.com