INGWI: Oh Look, it’s The Game Again

So much for naming these after album titles.

I opened my browser on my phone and was recommended this article about a new album from The Game. I pretty much lost interest in the guy after his assault accusations came out a few years ago but this news wasn’t surprising.

Rappers don’t retire. Too $hort, Jay-Z, Master P, Mase (and supposedly Logic still is) all tried and failed. Game, who has craved respect his entire career, announcing another album should’ve been on all of our hip-hop bingo cards.

And naturally, right after Snoop played a snippet of new music with Hit-Boy on his IG, now Game is working with the California born beatsmith on his new album. I’m happy for Hit-Boy; he’s come a long way from the Jay-Z Interview days. And while working with the hottest producers isn’t new in rap, my expectations are lowered because none of their music will compare to Hit-Boy’s work with Nas.

Although The Game has had some high marks musically, he’s also made some of the most run-of-the-mill tracks in recent memory. His tendency to name drop is also a style that can alienate some listeners. While I didn’t listen to his last effort Born 2 Rap, I have listened to most of his discography. What follows is a quick rundown of each project I’ve heard and a summary of whether Game’s contributions over the years have been worthwhile.

The Documentary (2005) – 5 mics
While half of the album infamously was provided to him from 50 Cent and his G-Unit affiliation, Game took his mixtape buzz and delivered on his debut. It doesn’t matter if he had a little help from his friends.

Doctor’s Advocate (2006) – 4 mics
After all the turmoil of his beef with 50, G-Unot, and Dr. Dre declining to work with him, Game did not have a sophomore slump. While the “One Blood (Remix)” is stupid long, Game proved he had a great ear for beats and truly proved his songwriting skills weren’t all provided by 50.

LAX (2008) – 3.5 mics
At the time, I felt like a lot of the records that were leaking to the blogs were better than what made the actual LP. “Dope Boys” still gets me hype though.

The R.E.D. Album (2011) – 2.5 mics
I only remember loving Kendrick’s verse on “The City”. The rest of this was unmemorable.

Jesus Piece (2012) – 2 mics
“Celebration” was cool I guess?

Blood Moon: Year of the Wolf (2014) – N/A
I didn’t even know this came out until after The Documentary 2 was released.

EDIT: I listened to the first tracks “Bigger Than Me” and “F.U.N.”. The former has all that aggressive content I’m always a sucker for while the latter sounds like a 50 song.

The Documentary 2 (2015) – 5 mics
I think Jayceon didn’t know he dropped an album in 2014 because… wow. Even at 19 songs I loved every song on this album.

The Documentary 2.5 (2015) – 4.5 mics
I really enjoyed this album as well but at another 17 tracks it’s a little too ambitious. If you want to listen to a ton of The Game’s best projects though, these are the two albums to put together.

Streets Of Compton (2016) – N/A
I just found out this existed. It’s a soundtrack for a… wait for it… documentary series he did for A&E.

Block Wars (2016) – N/A
A mobile game soundtrack too?!

1992 (2016) – 3 mics
I had high hopes for this one after The Documentary 2 but nothing grabbed my attention here.

Born 2 Rap (2019) – N/A
Started listening to this one for the purposes of the piece. After Ed Sheeran greets us with the intro, “No Smoke” and “Five Hundred Dollar Candles” are fine but they don’t leave me with high hopes for the rest of the album, especially at 25 tracks.

At 12 projects and 10 proper albums, there’s no lack of content from Game (and that’s not including 14 mixtapes and 5 independent albums). He is, if anything, the true definition of a studio rat. From the very beginning of his career, he’s never shied away from wanting his name mentioned among the greats, whether that’s from the West Coast or the GOATs. 17 years later, I wouldn’t say he’s had a bad career. However, he’s defined more by incidents that have happened outside of music including his beef with 50 Cent and multiple legal cases.

To those younger than 30, he very well may be considered in the top 10 or top 5 of the greatest West Coast MCs just by his output alone. To those of us like me who have been fans of hip-hop for longer than that, he may come off as an obnoxious braggart who can churn out a decent song every now and then.

I fall in the middle. The Game’s lyricism, even with all the name drops, has always appealed to me. Anyone who can hold me captivated for 300 bars has to have some kind of talent. But I also wish he would sometimes fade from the spotlight long enough to make me want new music from him. While his assault case turned me off of him as a fan in a big way, it didn’t shock me that I enjoyed some of those albums I played to research this piece. I think he’s carved out his own place in the history of West Coast rap for sure, but if he really had stayed away after Born 2 Rap, I would’ve been okay with that too.

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