January 20, 2005

With Dre & Co. on the beats, let The Game Begin
By Canyon Cody
Published in The Heights

The hype surrounding The Game made him seem more like a marketing gimmick than a rapper. Dr. Dre signed him to Aftermath because he was from Compton, home of gangsta rap pioneers NWA. 50 Cent made him a member of G-Unit because he also got shot during a botched drug deal.

No one knew whether he could actually rap, but The Game could definitely star as a video game character in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

His debut album, The Documentary, proves The Game is more than a cheap publicity stunt and might re-establish the otherwise lifeless West Coast hip-hop scene.

The Game's lyrical content won't send listeners reaching for the rewind button with astonishment, but the album's superb production and The Game's decent flow guarantees listeners won't need to skip any tracks either.

The production roster on The Documentary is absolutely preposterous for a debut album. Jay-Z had to release ten albums before he got this sort of all-star line-up to produce The Black Album.

Timbaland, Kanye West, Just Blaze, Eminem, and Hi-Tek each bless The Game's grimy growl with fresh beats. But lest we forget the lessons of the 2004 Yankees, a superstar line-up doesn't automatically guarantee a championship.

Fortunately, Dr. Dre serves as sonic director, lending a cohesiveness to The Documentary that's rare on albums with so many producers. Dre put more effort into The Game than he has with any of his Aftermath projects since 50 Cent's debut. Surprisingly, the five tracks Dre produced, including the old-school g-funk in "How We Do," aren't the best beats on the album.

Just Blaze produced the hottest track on The Black Album ("Public Service Announcement") and now brings his infamous horns to two of the best beats on The Documentary, "Church for Thugs" and "No More Fun and Games."

Apparantly, Kanye West has recently discovered the 33 RPM button on his turntable and his offering, "Dreams," is a nice departure from his typical violin solos and sped-up samples.

The Game is outshined by both 50 Cent and Dungeon Family producers Cool and Dre on the album's best track, "Hate It or Love It." 50 Cent's mellifluous flow glides effortlessly, whether it's from verse to hook or from rapping to singing.

Here and throughout the album, The Game raps barely well enough to justify the beat. Every once in a while he will utter a mildly clever line, but he mainly spends his verses reminiscing about NWA, 2Pac, and the good ol' days of West Coast hip-hop. Just in case anyone was not aware of his affiliation with Dre, The Game references the doctor 35 times in 70 minutes.

There's really nothing mentionable about The Game as a rapper, but The Documentary bangs from beginning to the end, perfect for driving fast with the speakers blasting.

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