February 6, 2005

The Game - The Documentary

Not since Dr. Dre’s Chronic 2001 has there been a significant West Coast rap release. Multi-platinum stars such as Outkast, Ludacris, and Little Jon have shifted the power in rap, which as recently as the mid-1990s resided in California, to a slightly more southern locale. This, combined with the Jay-Z’s recent “retirement,” has lead to the Dirty South’s emergence as rap’s new powerhouse. While superstars such as Eminem and 50 Cent have made significant impacts after their discoveries, the laid-back style of G-Funk has not permeated the radio waves for sometime. For goodness sake, even Snoop Dogg himself left Death Row Records for the No Limit label!
However, for all of the West Coast rap fanatics out there, the latest in a line of saviors has emerged. Hailing from Compton, G-Unit’s The Game has recently released his debut album The Documentary; and while not necessarily a classic, this album has surprised many and lived up to its considerable hype.
With production help from heavyweights such as Kanye West, Just Blaze, Timbaland, and Dr. Dre himself, The Documentary is, not surprisingly, solid in the “beats” division. Fortunately, Game’s story is strong enough that these star producers do not overshadow his rhymes. Nonetheless, as the Game will tell you (repeatedly), he has only been rapping for two years and his lyrical style shows it. Unlike executive producer 50 Cent, the Game does not possess a melodic voice. Rather, his gruff delivery helps paint a bleak portrait of the gang life that he was a part of for much of his life.
While it is obvious that the Game is most strongly influenced by fellow Comptonites N.W.A., he also spends considerable time name-checking the classic albums that have influenced him (Ready to Die, Reasonable Doubt, Doggystyle). This combination of both East and West Coast – sorry, no crunk – leads to a sound that is more universal than strictly Californian. Though his story may not be quite as compelling as 50 Cent’s (he was shot only five times compared to 50’s nine), Game is more than an adequate storyteller. Despite the fact that he raps about drug dealing, life behind bars, and the birth of a child, the pop sensibility of this album makes it accessible to everyone from – as The Game puts it – those “doing twenty-five on their fifth year” to “white boys in Abercrombie and Fitch gear.” With pounding beats, sing-along hooks, and high profile guest stars, The Documentary is a strong debut album from what could be West Coast rap’s newest star.

3.5 milks out of 5
Key track: “Put You On the Game” - produced by Timbaland

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